Paul Blackburn


The Touch


                        The windows
                        are never wide enuf .

Calle del Vidrio, Barcelona, is
off Fernando, toward the Plaza Real;
short, tight, narrow, &
             leads toward the palmtrees

The corner bar to the left is
three to five pesetas cheaper than
the one to the right
             as you enter, plenty of
sky, trees, a fountain, the
            arcades sit over each side we
sit with gambas, cervezas, dis-                            MARISCAS
cuss my sis-                                                            PERCEBES
ter's imminent                                                         ALMEJAS VIVAS
arrival, I face                                                           CENTOLLOS
the walls, cannot see                                                  Y
the palmtrees behind me                                      GAMBAS
             BEBA COCA COLA                                SEPIA
                 BAR FARAON

                                                        it says

A quieter day
than yesterday
at the Glorieta, we
sat at the old man's tables in the
back, yesterday, asked
where he was, vacation?
             —No, the other waiter says, he's
dead, came into work on a Thursday
didn't come Friday or Saturday,
Saturday died.

An incredible sadness .
You do not have to know these people's
            names to love them, the way
                        the old man moved
                        among the tables, an
                        organized waddle that
cared for so many, so quickly, the new
young man works the same station like
a beheaded chicken, no cool to lose, he
whips it out, everything very organized, but
             it doesn't make the same
                       coherence.         Our friend
's tables are full in the front so we
                                            speak only
when he has time      .       None of us
knows anyone else's name .

What was he called, the old man?
A gentleness and efficient waddling is
             dead now.     We do
             not need to know
             their names to recognize
a pleasure in feeding people well,
                        that rare intimacy, how
miss someone whose name you've never known?
We do not need to know their names, they
minister to us for tips and love they
give is given back   .    The old man
worked the back—four tables only
in the front—sometimes five, it
depended on how heavy the clientele
was that day    .    Today, we
take the full cubierta the first time


Again    .     The viejo lost to time .
We never know one another's names, tho
we touched each time .
              I'd come back to Barcelona again
              he'd come and touch my shoulder, even
              if I were not at his tables. a greeting . We

do not need to know

anybody's name

to love them.

[June 1968]