I just read this poem and suddenly knew that I HAD been riding too long in cars and that I SHOULD probably get a horse and that I NEEDED to be full of public joy much more often and that it was HIGH TIME to be riding through orange groves in the dust and heat of southern Spain. Do you ever feel like that?
By Stephen Dunn
The year I owned a motorcycle and split the air in southern Spain, and could smell the oranges in the orange groves as I passed them outside of Seville, I understood I'd been riding too long in cars, probably even should get a horse, become a high-up, flesh-connected thing among the bulls and cows. My brand-new wife had a spirit that worried and excited me, a history of moving on. Wine from a spigot for pennies, langostinas and angulas, even the language felt dangerous in my mouth. Mornings, our icebox bereft of ice, I'd speed on my motorcycle to the iceman's house, strap a big rectangular block to the extended seat where my wife often sat hot behind me, arms around my waist. In the streets the smell of olive oil, the noise of men torn between church and sex, their bodies taut, heretical. And the women, buttoned-up, or careless, full of public joy, a Jesus around their necks. Our neighbors showed us how to shut down in the afternoon, the stupidity of not respecting the sun. They forgave us who we were. Evenings we'd take turns with the Herald Tribune killing mosquitoes, our bedroom walls bloody in this country known for blood; we couldn't kill enough. When the Levante, the big wind, came out of Africa with its sand and heat, disturbing things, it brought with it a lesson, unlearnable, of how far a certain wildness can go. Our money ran out. I sold the motorcycle. We moved without knowing it to take our quieter places in the world.