My reason for leaving Barcelona, I suppose, was that I have never been the class of people to remain in Barcelona. Barcelona has diamonds in its sidewalks. I have turquoise in my strong box.
And so for four dollars there is a commuter train South out of Barcelona (the most too-beautiful-for-me city in the world) along the Costa Daurada (the Gold Coast) to the most reasonable village of all, Calafell.
The monument to El Pescador Calafell greeted me as I walked toward the Mediterranean Sea as if to tell me that this, Calafell, is a fishing village, and that this overpowering history stretching back to the Roman times and the Visigoths will overshadow anything that ever comes after.
I stayed on the beach by the Mediterranean sea by the black crosses of ships many days, long days until the one rare gray day darkened the masts of boats and brought the poem, Aqui Te Amo, to mind.
O la cruz negra de un barco.
A veces amanezco, y hasta mi alma está húmeda.
Suena, resuena el mar lejano.
Este es un puerto.
Aquí te amo.
I knew why I left Barcelona. But I did not yet know why I had come to Calafell.
For some reason, another line from a Pablo Neruda poem, this time misremembered, came into my head: “And it was at that time poetry arrived in search of me.”
I turned around and looked at the botigas behind me and found myself not in front of the house of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, but in front of the house and botiga of the Catalan poet, Carlos Barral.
I entered the house of the poet and knew why I had come.
Poets make sense to poets. This, despite the fact that we are all unique constellations of crazy. Poets are much to be trusted in snapshot moments, never to be trusted to do the same thing, in the same spot, several times over. Unless that spot is a typewriter.
I would not have stopped at the Catalan poet’s house had I not seen the plaque engraved with the words: “Cave Canem.” I took the sign, literally, as a sign.
Cave Canem is Latin for “Beware of the Dog.” Cave Canem is also the name of a singular place for Black Poetry co-founded by my first poetry professor, Cornelius Eady.
It was at a party full of Cave Canem poets, in fact, when I found myself apologizing for being, well, a poet. I was in the midst of explaining that sometimes I do not arrive on time, sometimes I do not arrive, sometimes I do not know where I am going, sometimes I feel the need to go nowhere at all — when the writer Jacqueline Jones LeMon interrupted me with a sort of whispered arabesque of a hush:
“It’s okay, Honey. I get you. We get you. We’re all poets. We see you. I see you. I will find you.”
And so when I found myself by accident in the home of the dead poet Carlos Barral, I lingered a while.
I have always felt at home in the homes of poets. I always manage to find poets. They always manage to find me.
And so we linger, feeling, for a time, not lost, but found.