Bomb Shelter, Plaça del Diamant 
                                                              —Andy Young

When they were sleeping I'd stick the funnel in their mouths, first one
and then the other, and pour the acid into them and then pour it into myself .…

                                                            —Mercè Rodoreda, The Time of the Doves


a metal sculpture, a woman made of that metal, trying to move through it, trying
to free herself from it, three doves anchored beside her, unable to fly

two entrances to the bomb shelter, separated in case the plaza was smashed
two to three bombardments per week the guide tells us
I scribble his words down, little metal doves

it took three years for Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco to break the Republic
the guide explains, recasting defeat as defiance

where was the rest of the world we ask
it was, they said, an internal matter

today flags for Catalonia’s independence flap from balconies
yellow ribbons to free political prisoners
we will not win but we will not lose either he says

a folding door opens to the shelter with a timeline in photos
he points out the Coliseum bomb, a soft spreading plume from high above 

an Italian airman took the photo he says
I think of the bomber stopping to photograph,
the decision to document the moment

on the ground, not seen in the photograph:
observers lifted by the blast and impaled on a fence
one of them close to giving birth

first city bombed at night
first city bombed for two years straight
how quaint the facts in light of barrel bombs in light of

Natalia, the woman in metal, Rodoreda’s character made solid,
trying to run from pouring poison

into her children while they sleep
to keep them from starving
children back then ate porridge of milk and wood shavings

Madrid is run by Spanish colonists, the heirs of Franco the guide tells us
            to the European Union it’s an internal matter

Catalonia jumps and Spain trembles,
he says we don’t want the pieces of the bread we want the bread

in a grainy shot of aftermath: red crosses like targets
on helpless medics’ hats, haze of stunned faces

not like now: Damascus, say, flattened in a newsfeed,
children picking grass to eat, haze of pixels blipping past
internal matters

1400 shelters, now all but three are parking garages
what strange fortune to be here, to climb down into the relic,

wired with bulbs now so we can see
the benches, the bricked, useless Catalonian arches,

the shelter’s infirmary equipped then
with a water bucket, needles, ripped up shirts

Nazis tried out new bombers on the Spanish population
Soviets, it’s said, helped the Republic in exchange
for gold ingots and to get rid of their old fleets internal matters

at war’s end teenage boys were sent to the front
“the bottle battalion” the people called them

the starvation, worse than the bombs, ended in 1952  
we paid for our own bombings until 1967

If you are resting it’s because someone is dying in another city

the present tense grows wings, swooshes past
the flightless doves stay flightless

Andy Young

Andy Young is the author of four chapbooks, including John Swenson Dynamicron, just out from Dancing Girl Press, and a full-length poetry collection, All Night It Is Morning (Diálogos Press, 2014). She teaches at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Her work has recently appeared, or is forthcoming, in Waxwing, The Southern Review, Ecotone, and Prairie Schooner.

ISSN 2472-338X
© 2019