We gather around the counter
As H reflects on growing old
the bitterness and brutality
how there is no mother or father
whether or not it’s a blessing to die young.
And no one cares and it’s a how you say shit hole of merda you know shit
“merda” is punctuated by an arc of smoke. Emphasizing FUMAR MATA in the kitchen.
He hurls out something else about the pointlessness of the human condition and what do people really mean to each other in the end anyway.
The details have faded.
Which mosaic is on the left? The sun or moon?
We raise our San Miguels in synch as I shrug to him
sí, pero el amor regresa a ti
“you send love out through your actions and it returns to care for you”
not even remotely “people you love return to you”
But it’s lost in translation and he guffaws as I swig and he cynically chokes.
Did you hear what she says? HA she says love returns!
I don’t know how to translate “paying it forward” or even, “love undergoes realizations and yes people do come back to you, but I never said in one piece or even the piece you want.”
he shakes his head and the other men sigh like
isn’t she oblivious
isn’t she naïve
oh, she’ll learn
and leave me for Catalan as I feel my young belief flare up in defense
but I don’t bother voicing my affront.
I know he’ll understand in time
either my intended point, or what he translated for himself.
And in the next moment, K hotly flicks through the bead curtain
and starts laying into H (jokingly) (?) about something.
(Maybe how we accidentally abandoned her on her crutches halfway across the lawn, with uneven stairs to navigate. It has taken her half a round of beer to catch up. I have learned that you are either painfully helpful or painfully unhelpful in the face of fresh disability.)
“Mira això!” he points with his beer “Look at this!”
His cigarette droops dangerously low to dropping and his eyes freeze in time as K’s disgruntled stream continues in multiple languages.
“She says love returns to you, and here it does.”
The details of that conversation have faded, though I knew in the moment I wanted it on my mind forever, as a genuine pause in time where I accidentally saw through all my bullshit. Odd how we find ourselves only really knowing how to speak when we think there’s nothing after.
The boy young man had died and we were thrown together as family, having just missed the chance of friendship first.
We glimpsed it but then I left and he died and I came back to broken people and then I broke and kept breaking until the final shatter, which came like a long expected surprise.
And in the midst of it, I had the audacity to proffer that el amor regresa a ti.
Of course, it was proven to me then and in the intervening months that whether through a bead curtain or the happiness of one who does/n’t know, the rediscovery of a folded and frayed note from another time, and by feeling de/pro/moted to creation mud, melted to muck and reshaped from the inside into some sort of hardened, un/finessed clay, it can, H, I told you so.