The Wake-Up Blast

by Hall Gardner

On Sanchez Mejias' death, Lorca told a friend, 'It is like my own death, an apprenticeship for my own death.

I feel an astonishing sense of calm. Perhaps because I had a premonition about what was to happen'.

The wake-up blast of her alarm clock

belatedly warns her of what she already knows.

 

She has already stripped the bed sheets

and showered with lime-scented soap.

 

She sprinkles salt and pepper on her tortilla de jamon.

She stirs spoonfuls of sugar into café con leche.

 

She nibbles on deep fried churros.

She chokes down freshly squeezed jugo de naranja.

 

The balmy winds of an early spring waft 

through the white curtains of the open window.

 

A radio voice in bass tones announces the daily news.

She hardly listens. There is no news except

 

That it is now 07:30. She knows she must catch 

the train. She knows she cannot be late once again.

 

 

A pigeon flies up and flaps its gunpowder wings

into her face. On its leash a muzzled Doberman snarls.

 

A rat scurries from the gutter. Still she rushes onwards

up the stairs to the platform to where the crowd

 

is already swarming. There she must jam into already 

overcrowded wagons where she will be pushed and shoved

 

and obliged to breathe bull sweat and garlic breath

nostril to nostril — as on every workday morning.

 

A cell phone rings: A handsome man with a goatee

has a rendezvous a las cinco en punto de la tarde.

 

For a moment, she feared it was her own office calling.

But this morning she awoke before her alarm had even rung:

 

It had not let her linger in the breezes of unanticipated rays

and let her make the usual excuses for being late…

 

Arsenic balls and smoke cover the tracks at Atocha.

Death had set its alarm at precisely 07:39.

 

The wounds were burning like stars at El Pozo.

Death had set its alarm at precisely 07:41.

 

The train cars became coffins at Santa Eugenia.

Death had set its mobile alarm at precisely 07:42.

 

From a distance Death spread its gangrene on March 11:

Those horrific mornings of September and March 11!!!

 

—2004

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