Staff of life

Wound up with an extra day, somehow. Norwegians left, then the Americans. Bummed a ride to the airport. Had a cup of good coffee. Awake now. Lonely and a little sad. People going somewhere, not me. Familiar sterility of an airport. Same sneakers and backpacks and worried faces. Packed too much spent too much ate too much drank too much, that was a vacation?

Hurry home and throw your face back into the meatgrinder.

Took a taxi downtown. Kind old man, broken teeth, how do you like Mallorca? Not bad for paradise.

Central bus stop at 6:30, everything’s asleep even the stones. Ponder the bus routes and look for my hostel, twenty euros for a bunk and breakfast and wi-fi, here’s your souvenir from Spain honey I brought you some bedbugs. This one is named Jim.

Train station stairs the L351 bus leaves for Alcudia at 8:00 that might be a story or at least motion which is the same thing. Pretty girl hawking pastries and coffee why not? Bought smile better than none at all.

Kids unload streaming by. Joy and raw and pensive stuffed into skinny jeans you gotta fit in even when nothing fits. You’ll grow out of the jeans but not the mind you’re crammed into.

The pastry spills warm chocolate down my tongue and throat. Old bum sits next to me, my older version, eyes peering out into the blurring dimming world all he sees is what he smells, coffee and chocolate so we share. Thank you with the Spanish lisp, gentle and kind even when tumbling out of that broken mouth.
Muslim lady sits with a head scarf and iPhone the Stone Age and the New Age can coexist just let’s agree not to talk religion or politics or what matters.

Who sleeps in hard plastic chairs underground, tired and poor people it’s not so bad death is worse. Let me drift off a moment maybe the bum and Muslim woman aren’t thieves no bedbugs on the plastic chair anyway I’m certain I hope.

My nemesis is following me called rental bike, no escape from them, worse than liquor. Six euro bargain, all day strapped to a bright red 40-pound clunker with basket and rack. Beats walking beats carrying here’s your lock sir return by seven please as advertised in Trip Advisor. Walk on walk on.

Awake with a stiff neck, thanks plastic chair back torture rack, the pastry long incinerated in the engine and now nothing but my good friend ravenous, compelling me to stand go forth hunt gather anything but please fill the maw. Red rental bike sings sweet siren song but one light bag across my back and a duffel, mosey on before the jaws of the trap snap shut.

Up into the 9:00 light and moving aimlessly and lost with a purpose go west old man in slow shallow steps that feel the soft stone edges worn smooth by a thousand years. Narrow one-man streets, burro paths paved for people on either side walls so straight and close they might asphyxiate you except for the green shutters and planters gushing the colored fruit of water and sun.

Big rock temples to dog and his saints, slavedrivers mercenaries moneyhoarders pederasts clad in black selling salvation to the humble the simple the poor the pure. Slow old man steps cease and the bag switches palms, old shoulders old hands old eyes straining for a glimpse of what I should have paused to gaze at forty years ago but it’s all gone now even the shadows.

On a main drag lined with stalls the sweets don’t tempt me, instead a giant loaf of the blackest bread slit in half spilling out its raisin nut guts give me that and she does, half this loaf is better than all and one stall down a cup of Mallorcan oranges pulped and wrung dry then what else?

Sunshine and a bench.

The dense hard bread tears at my teeth each bite a battle so my gums turn raw from the ripping. It is all you need for a day’s life, a pound of flour and nuts and water and yeast and dried fruit washed with fresh oranges the vigor this time wells forth from your very gut. Passersby in German French Queenglish and other odd tongues wonder at the strange simplicity of black bread and a couple of weatherbeaten bags on a bench, and so do I.


31 thoughts on “Staff of life”

  1. Barbara Radnofsky

    Well that’s a haunting essay. Wish I could write like that. How many vacationers really see their destination as you did? And the photos will stick with me as long or longer than the people you met and thoughts and places you experienced. Still, it’s good you only had the extra day. Safe travels to California.

  2. You should go on vacation more often, not only do you have the ability to take people there through your words, but you also make it a very interesting trip. Thank you.

    1. Yes! We see it, smell it, hear it, taste it behind your glasses. You bring us to Millorca but so interestingly, and wonderfully, not as ourselves. Thank you for writing and sharing.

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