The discussion among the women queuing in the corner shop this morning was all about what gifts their husbands had bought them, and how those who hadn’t would be suffering the consequences.
None of them had any intention of giving presents themselves –ya no estoy enamorada-, said one, and the luncheon meat, cheap frankfurters and processed cheese in her basket confirmed that she wasn’t planning to cook a special Valentine’s meal, either.
I can’t say that I’m celebrating, either, though I have dug out a poem from a few years ago when I was living in the centre of Madrid. I don’t think I celebrated much that year, either.
It’s cold again today. There’s fish bones,
orange peel and dog shit in the street.
The concierge at number 32 has mopped
the pavement; now she tips
a stream of tepid water at my feet.
Lather swirls in a grey tide
between cobbles. It froths,
and dog-end boats are wrecked
in scummy rock pools.
The bus stop’s empty: seems
I missed the 8:05. I wait and watch
my breath disperse.
The bus looms
in the semi-dark.
I board, and on the radio
I hear the DJ smirk: