REMEMBERING THE AMBOS MUNDOS
They gave us the room next to Hemingway’s:
the hotel’s best view —
harbour, fortress, green wooded slopes
right opposite our rusted balcony.
Still we’d drag the shutters closed at noon,
struggling to twist the eggshaped handle
that kept them locked and stopped the wind
banging them on the frames. And then we’d sleep,
heat-dazed, on the hard dishevelled bed.
We banked our energies for nighttime dancing.
One day we took that other door, to see
his black typewriter like an upturned beetle
stiff on the wooden table, with some letters,
his yellowed hotel bill, photographs,
cigar boxes. Going down to the lobby
the liftman said his Christian name was Stalin.
‘Like the Russian comandante?’ I asked him.
‘Yes,’ he replied proudly, ‘a great man!’
The policewoman outside had an automatic rifle
and a rose in her hair. Black lacy tights with seams.
I listened for tapping at nights in the next room
or footsteps on the landing but probably never heard them.
Though one morning after a two days’ storm
a rainbow coalesced, its foot just touching
the white stone Christ on the ridge beyond the harbour.