NIGHT FALLS. Night. And all
the telephone booths in Plaza de Lavapiés fill up.
The old bolero singer who now
sells cocaine in the bars.
The Moroccan Mafioso who married
a Spanish woman and was transmuted by love into a security
The Korean woman who sold you
a beer in the deli a short time ago.
The forty-something punk who
keeps dreaming himself Peter Pan.
The cop who’s been patrolling
the plaza all afternoon to prevent disturbances.
The student of fine arts who
is terrified at the thought of having to return to Germany.
The scriptwriter who just drank
a beer at Pakesteis after wasting a fortune at a peep show
on Calle Atocha.
The woman who from her balcony
spies on couples making love and imagines that she is the
Each one on the phone, in a
booth, in Plaza de Lavapiés. When night falls. Night.
And if one could silence the noise of the motors, the murmur
of the televisions, and the pleas of those who pray, one could
hear, coming out of the mouths glued to the mouthpieces, and
in many different languages–Russian, Spanish, Chinese,
Arabic, German, Senegalese– one word repeated more often
than any other. Mamá.
Translated by Cola Franzen. In: Spain. A Travler’s
Literary Companion. Peter Bush and Lisa Dillman Eds. California: