NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 89

Duende BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE or seven guys danced, throwing themselves around slamming each other to Blondie’s Heart of Glass. Franco had died a few years back. From my window that night, a full moon, shadows of the town square, the boarded-up cathedral, a cat in heat, the smell of blood oranges. In the morning his grandmother, all in black, asleep stooped in a chair outside my door. Nearby the ruins of an ancient Roman temple, goats on hind legs eating the pale green leaves from olive trees. 87 An hour inland from Bangor, Maine, over rolling hills, in an oval pasture surrounded by giant conifers, the forest floor bejeweled with ruby-studded mushrooms, I watch the sheep sing, if bleating could be called a song, as they feed on September clover. Maybe someone in a grove long ago saw a man attached to a beast of burden and so the concept of the satyr was born. Memory is the past reversed. I once went out with a sailor, a Spaniard, from Andalucía. We met at sea where I worked the roulette wheel in the ship’s casino. His legs were slightly bowed, his voice gruff and torn, and when he came the sound seemed to climb up not from his throat but from his feet smelling of earth and sea and grief — a deep song Lorca called duende. It wasn’t pretty. His blue and red and purple briefs soaking in a bucket by the cabin door. He told me once when he was a boy his grandmother had caught him trying to fuck a chicken. The poor chicken, he laughed, his saddle-worn Andalucían laugh, feathers flying everywhere, his grandmother screaming. And what to call those half-human, half-chicken kinds of days: scratching and clawing at the earth, bathed in dust, trying not to think about the simmering anise, peppercorn and broth. When I visited him, he meet me at the airport. Then the long train ride south through field after field of sunflowers. Por la tarde amilies paraded, por la noche, only men and boys and extranjeras — foreign women — out past sunset. In a empty disco six BRN-SPRING-2015.indb 87 3/29/15 11:42 AM