Sagrada familia



Verse 23: Water in Badalona


A brass tap and bowl embossed with a crest
an invite from some wealthy soul. Once new
now scratched and scuffed, this nameless parting gift
that bids the passer-by step up and drink

“Come sate your thirst, and moisten those dry lips”,
leaving unspoken: “Only mouthfuls, please”,
believing water natural has no price,
believing there would never be such need.

The languid pair who lean upon it so
and tip their plastic barrels to each spout,
the hurried shuffler in the bus headlamps,
the stooping youth who bears the family load

all drain the taps eight litres at a time
to stop eviction, doing as they must.
Complaining neighbours and the stern elect
refuse to have the crisis in their sight.

The drying up of favour and of luck,
the girdling ever tighter with no end,
we cheer the lifelines cut when they’re not ours.
As poverty floods all, we plug all hope.

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The tears of an unloved saint

Tuesday is La Mercé in the city of Barcelona. It is a holiday, with a procession of papier maché giants, drummers, and dancers, that winds through the streets of the centre, and it pulls the whole world in to watch.

Barcellona mercede celebration

It is also a celebration that is famous for being rained out. But why? Here is an explanation, my wife, Susana told me. The first version is in Spanish – her words, and the second, a “translation”.

Por la Mercé, siempre llueve porque Santa Eulàlia llora. La explicación es que antes la patrona de Barcelona era Santa Eulàlia y ahora lo es la Mercé. La lluvia es sus lagrimas.

(During Mercé, it always rains because Santa Eulàlia cries. Eulàlia cries because she was the patron saint of Barcelona before, and now La Mercé is. The rain is her tears.)