By Hannah Sullivan Brown
One hundred and five degrees and everyone wants a taxi. I wait too long at the stand in Plaza Nueva. The driver gets a call from his wife. He tells her he will just finish this ride. He turns to me, ¿Entiendes español? His family adopted a rescue dog that sleeps on a bed next to his daughter. The dog was abused and has seizures during which he shakes and froths at the mouth. When a seizure ends, he is disoriented, unable to walk straight. Slowly, the dog begins to smell again and goes from family member to family member, remembering them. This morning the seizures are worse than they’ve ever been, coming one after another. The driver’s wife has tried everything and doesn’t know what to do. The dog is stumbling around the house—delirious and frightened. I never understood, the driver says, eyes meeting mine in the rearview mirror, why people were so obsessed with their dogs, but now—I don’t know what we’re going to do. We have to let the dog go and my wife, my daughter . . . he shakes his head. Getting out of the car, I tell him how sorry I am and wish the best for his family and the dog. He speeds away.
As I enter the museum, the man at the front desk points a thick finger at an oversized wall clock—I am four minutes late for the last tour of the day and one may enter only with a guided tour. I ask if there is a group inside and if I may join late. He responds that yes, there is a group but no, I may not join. Hay un horario, y hay que respectarlo. There is a schedule, and we must respect it. We argue. I explain how I’ve tried to visit several times, but the kids, the heat, the taxi, my last day. He repeats, Hay un horario, y hay que respectarlo. When it is clear that I will not be allowed to enter, I sit on a bench in the orchard and study the parched black apple trees. The man and other workers leave the house and lock it behind them. There was no group; they wanted to leave. Inside the house where Lorca spent the last summers of his life, his large writing desk remains, his drawings, his piano—positioned as it was when he lived there. I have read that it’s very moving. I have read Toda la noche en el huerto, / Mis ojos, como dos perros. All night in the orchard, my eyes, like two dogs.
By now the taxi driver must be home. He scoops up the dog, wife and daughter leaning into each other. The driver’s wife will lay a blanket from their daughter’s bed across the backseat and he will set the dog on it, shushing him calm. The dog’s heart races, white foam around his mouth. Soon the dog will be in the orchard. He will see Lorca there and Lorca will take the dog’s heavy, healthy head in his hands and off they’ll go to sit in a plaza, near a fountain, eating oranges, trying to breathe in the jasmine so deeply that it will be impossible to forget the sweetness, the brevity.
Hannah Sullivan Brown received an MA from Indiana University and an MFA from Butler University, where she recently served as Poetry Editor of Booth Magazine. She lives with her husband and three children and teaches in Indianapolis, Indiana. Recent work appears in So It Goes, the literary journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library.