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Lost in migration
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Restaurante Voramar, Portbou
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Consorci Port de Portbou - Official website
Language: French. Color: Color.
Add the first question. Port Bou by Stephen Spender As a child holds a pet, Arms clutching but with hands that do not join, And the coiled animal watches the gap To outer freedom in animal air, So the earth-and-rock flesh arms of this harbour Embrace but do not enclose the sea Which, through a gap, vibrates to the open sea Where ships and dolphins swim and above is the sun.
In the bright winter sunlight I sit on the stone parapet Of a bridge; my circling arms rest on a newspaper Empty in my mind as the glittering stone Because I search for an image And seeing an image I count out the coined words To remember the childish headlands of Port Bou. A lorry halts beside me with creaking brakes And I look up at warm waving flag-like faces Of militia men staring down at my French newspaper.
In their smiling faces the war finds peace, the famished mouths Of the rusty carbines brush against their trousers Almost as fragilely as reeds; And wrapped in a cloth - old mother in a shawl - The terrible machine-gun rests. They shout, salute back as the truck jerks forward Over the vigorous hill, beyond the headland.
An old man passes, his running mouth, With three teeth like bullets, spits out 'pom-pom-pom'. The children run after; and, more slowly, the women, Clutching their clothes, follow over the hill, Till the village is empty, for the firing practice, And I am left alone on the bridge at the exact centre Where the cleaving river trickles like saliva. At the exact centre, solitary as a target, Where nothing moves against a background of cardboard houses Except the disgraceful skirring dogs; and the firing begins, Across the harbour mouth from headland to headland.
White flecks of foam gashed by lead in the sea; And the echo trails over its iron lash Whipping the flanks of the surrounding hills. My circling arms rest on the newspaper, My mind seems paper where dust and ink fall, I tell myself the shooting is only for practice, And my body seems a cloth which the machine-gun stitches Like a sewing machine, neatly, with cotton from a reel, And the solitary, irregular, thin 'paffs' from the carbines Draw on long needles white threads through my navel. This poem was written during the Spanish Civil War which began in