(Dedicated to Josep Sunyol 1898 – 1936)
Dust waifs across the slabs
Where Falangists still gather
To remember the Caudillo
Once a year with hats and flags
Under a thicket of tilted arms.
A susurrus stirs the pines,
“Generalissimo” it whispers
Like a nurse to a pillow.
“Generalissimo” it expires
Like the prisoners of his war
Forced to build this mausoleum
Into the belly of the mountain,
Refilling the quarried stone
With their own skin and bone,
Veined and quiet as marble.
At the entrance to the tomb
A boy kicks a ball at the column
Wearing the blaugrana shirt
Of the team whose lefty President
Was murdered down the road
Eighty years away as the crow flies.
“Pass,” I say. He lobs. I nod back.
His shot arcs bright as a sabre
Across the shadow-spilling steps:
He condors away on Stuka wings
And thermals of fanatic glory
I shiver, halted and haunted,
Not by ghosts but the drip
Of this calcite moment.
Runner-up in the 2014 Frogmore Prize for Poetry