Wednesday, November 30, 2005

casi un bolero

When I was studying in Spain, the Festival of St. George, April 23, was a day when people exchanged books and flowers -- supposedly 'The Day of Lovers.' Somewhere along the way it also came to mark the deaths of both Cervantes and Shakespeare. Regardless, this was a day when everyone was either giving or receiving a red carnation or books on the breezy streets of Granada.

i've always been a sucker for both a good browse and a good book, so when we looked out to see the plazas covered in folding tables overflowing with heaps of books, it was enough to make me get out of the house at a decent time to peruse. i must have flipped through hundreds of books that day and purchased a fair amount of cookbooks, novels and the like. i got my share of flowers, too.

but there's one purchase from that day that particularly stands out. it's simply called "56 Boleros." i should have read the back more carefully, however, because where the enticing blurb that is supposed to lure the reader is usually located, it says:

BOLEROS
Si tienes un hondo penar
piensa en mi;
si tienes ganas de llorar
piensa en mi

(If you have a deep pain
think of me;
if you feel like crying
think of me)

after we shopped to exhaustion, a couple of my favorite people and i stopped off at our favorite cafe for some churros y chocolate. Now, this isn't your run-of-the-mill amusement park churro/choco combo: the pastry is crisp on the outside, soft and doughy in the middle, with crunchy sugar crystals that just melt into the chocolate on impact. and the drink is no watery Swiss Miss joke, either. we're talking liquid chocolate. god, i'm salivating just thinking about it. sigh.

anyway, we went out for a snack and shared our finds. somewhere along the way i got the idea that we should read from some of my new poetry books, and happened to choose good old 56. j cleared his throat, looked from s to me, and started reading in a cheesy operatic voice, but as he got farther along, the words sort of took over and we were all swept up in the drama of these poems that were famous for their lyrics and their melodies. maybe it was springtime. maybe it was spain. but all three of us were entranced.

not too long after that, things got very ugly. longterm friendships were severed. hearts were broken. bitter grudges were kept. i look back on that day, specifically on that book, and all i remember are the tears.

i hadn't thought about that stuff again for years, until we were talking about Boleros in the spanish class i'm now taking to brush up on my rusty skills. the senora is from Bolivia and was explaining that she doesn't think music today has the same feeling as those oldschool songs of love and loss that can make you cry just by reading the lyrics.

i went home and dug out old 56 for her. she looked through it, read a few phrases out loud, put her hand to her chest and shook her head. 'beautiful,' she said, her eyes welling up. and then launched into this terribly sad story about men, her divorce, her nogood ex-husband, and how she couldn't come up with anything consoling to say after her 20-year-old daughter had visited the father's office to find that the framed photos of herself and her brother on his desk had been replaced with ones of his new girlfriend's small children. soon we were both crying.

i don't know what it is about that book or its contents that taps into a person's emotions. but i'm pretty sure i'm not going to be flipping through it again anytime soon.

but just for old times' sake:

CENIZAS
Musica y letra: Wello Rivas

Despues de tanto
soportar la pena
de sentir tu olvido
despues que todo
te lo dio mi pobre
corazon herido
Has vuelto a verme
para que yo sepa
de tu desventura,
por la amargura
de un amor igual
al que me diste tu.
Ya no podre
ni perdonar ni darte
lo que tu me diste;
has de saber
que en un carino muerto
no existe el rencor.
Mas si pretendes
remover las ruina
que tu misma hiciste,
solo cenizas hallaras
de todo lo que fue
mi amor.

12 comments:

Guyana-Gyal said...

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I think I've said this before...this is sooooo well written, Cadiz.

I have books that I dip into every now and then, books that make me happy, make me think, make me sad.

The other day I was thinking about this...why do we read? In the movie about C S Lewis, Shadowlands with Anthony Hopkins, he said, 'we read to know that we are not alone.'

Popeye said...

Oh, thankd for this. . .

Noelia said...

Yes, this is good poetry. And I realize that the good poetry has often been put into music (but not always, and not always well done).

I am very fond of argentinian tango, although one should appreciate without necessarily believing the text (bad relationships is not a reality for everyone).

Also Beaudelaire ('Les Fleurs du Mal') , Jacques Prévert ('Paroles')...

And now boleros... Yes, you have good taste! =)

cream said...

I am trying to learn Spanish and I think I understood the poem. Very good!
The story is very moving!
And by the way, this summer I discovered Churros for the first time! Mmmmmmmmmmm....

Ale said...

i dont think really that everyone ends up in a messed up relationship- but i do think that its just human nature to mess up the way we see what's around us- and than it becomes reality-

by whatever- people should expect less of each other- no one is god and no one is perfect--

Demosthenes said...

Please don't tell me you're a Juanes fan.

cadiz12 said...

well, in my defense, i liked him before the hype about him became supercrazy. i'll admit, i didn't really know about him till a while after he broke away from Ekhymosis -- actually not until fijate bien, but i think some of his early work is some of his best. it is a little irritating that he's become so dave-matthews-ized (in terms of mass popularity, not sound), but i guess that's what happens sometimes?

what's your beef with j?

Ale said...

she's a ricky martin fan!


ooohhhohoh

lucasjackson7 said...

okay, first off, i like the story about spain, even though it ends sadly. you really captured what so many people think about, but never say and that is the reason that it's beautiful is that we are a part of that moment, but it's also the reason it's so sad, because it ends badly, but you still remember the moment because it's part of you.

secondly, it is beyond sad that i've taken 4 years of spanish as a second language, been to mexico and back, and work alongside mexicans on a daily basis at the jobsite and i struggled to work out the poem's translation and immediately became frustrated and went to translation.com for the "spanish to english" version. with that said, at least i am honest about the moment and i am a part of it, and that makes it more sad than it is beautiful.

however, spain just moved to the top 5 on my list of Things I Must Do Before I Die.

cadiz12 said...

hey, i'm not going to be a closet fan. i do happen to think that ricky's done justice to a few boleros in his time (and yes, i have shaken my bon-bon to his tunes a couple times, myself).

i was hesitant to translate this, but i realize that not everyone took spanish in high school, so i'll take a crack at it. this is more on sentiment than semantics, but please feel free to correct any missteps, those of you who know much better than i do.

Ashes

After it all
to withstand the pain
of feeling your abandonment
after all
that you gave my poor
wounded heart
you've returned to see me
so that i may know
of your bad adventure
through the bitterness
of an love as bad
as what you did to me.
No longer will i be able to
neither forgive nor do to you
what you did to me;
know
that in dead affection
spite doesn't exist.
What's more if you pretend
to remove the ruins
that you yourself created,
you'll only find ashes
of all that was
my love.


see? some things just sound cheesy in English.

cadiz12 said...

p.s. lucasj, you won't regret it.

*~mad munky~* said...

i love the way ricky sang that ... :o)

*goes to shake bon bons*

;o)