Each one has brought to light their own Almudena now what shades she usually wears. Mine is sitting in a rocking chair in the corridor of our house in Managua, in February 2009. Against the light, like a poorly taken photograph, behind her the bougainvillea that covers the side fence explodes in red and purple. She wears a green blouse and her pants are black, her hair tied back in a bow with a pink ribbon. It rocks slowly, propelling itself with its feet. He has Nicaraguan air in his features, or gypsies, or Madrid. Whatever is. But Almudena is sitting there, under that light of glowing gold from the incandescent tropics.
We have just arrived from León, where I have served as a cicerone to the troop formed by her, her husband Luis García Montero, Jesús García Sánchez (Chus Visor), Javier Bozalongo and Daniel Rodríguez Moya, a half Andalusian, Castilian, Catalan troop. Everyone has come to the International Poetry Festival of Granada, and we have gone to visit the Darian pilgrimage places, the cathedral, where the poet is buried under his cold marble lion, at the foot of the statue of San Pablo, the manor house where lived his childhood. We walk through this city where I lived my years as a student, and where from one sidewalk to another everyone used to greet each other with a goodbye poet !, a universal title.
This neighborhood of Colonial Los Robles was, it is true, the neighborhood of poets: on the other side of the street lived Ernesto Cardenal, and a few blocks away Claribel Alegría, whom we visited in troops, the same one from the trip to León, at five in the afternoon, punctual hour of the happy hour in his garden.
Mine, the Almudena that I well remember, is at her home in Madrid in 2006, in the kitchen crowded with pots and pans, preparing with nimble hands and a determined air all kinds of tapas, tortillas that she cuts into pieces, Russian salad, croquettes that He takes out breams from the boiling oil, hundreds of hands that toil as if they were strangers, but they are all his, the bottles of wine come and go, conversations rise in the room and laughter breaks out, the jokes crossed between Joaquín Sabina and Benjamín Prado are filigree, stories of misunderstandings in a Prague hotel, while Chus Visor, next to Conchita, nods smiling, like a Doctor Spock just got off the spaceship.
That time we were coming from the presentation of my storybook The animal kingdom in the Alcobendas City Hall, which Luis had done, and while we were traveling there, Don Francisco Ayala called him, a native of Granada like him, who wanted to consult him for something, and who then presided over the celebrations of his own centenary, which he overcame, never ceasing to take his evening whiskey. Some time before, in 2007, at Casa de América in Madrid, Almudena had presented my novel La fugitive.
My own Almudena is again sitting in the same rocking chair, eight years later, the bougainvillea always lit behind her silhouette, only now her blouse is salmon color; He gets up and tells me: “show me your books, show me where you write.” He has come to Nicaragua for the second time together with Luis, to participate in the Central America Account festival that is already beginning to be harassed by the two-headed tyranny.
I had been next to his work table in his house in Madrid, I had toured his books, and now we would carry out that same ritual on this side of the Atlantic. On a shelf, next to Javier Cercas’s books, he discovers the black spines of the volumes of his Episodes of an endless war, with a green seal attached that I use to mark the books I have read, because a library like mine is a stormy sea of memory, but also of oblivion, signs so as not to get lost in a forest so shady with so many sections and galleries. “You won’t be able to forget about these fat people of mine,” he tells me.
Besides, I have a segregated section of the poets that I always go to and only I know where to find them. Cavafis, Baudelaire, and Carlos Martínez Rivas, Raúl Zurita, Joan Margarit, Rafael Cadenas, Luis, who walk through the woods, sniffing around on their own.
Then Almudena sits in the chair where I write, and applies herself to signing all of them, an indelible sign of her passage through the forest where now everything is quietly waiting for a hand, mine, to bring all those books back to life. Exiled they too, in their own solitude.
And finally, that time on the pilgrimage to León in 2009, Almudena against the landscape of the waves that crashed in the resort of Las Peñitas where we had fried snapper for lunch in a restaurant on the dazzling coast of the Pacific Sea, protected from the sun under a palm roof.
And the photos of his funeral that I look at from Guadalajara, Luis bent over the grave depositing a copy of his book Completely friday, and here the Book Fair, where she was so many times, that she will start without her, but her distant and absent smile remains on the back of her books, the endless story of black Spain that she suddenly stopped telling us.
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