Monday, January 8, 2018

Four Sandwiches by Martín Espada

Four Sandwiches

     —Washington, D.C.

JC was called the Rack   
at the work farm,   
aluminum milk pails   
dangling from his hands.   
Once a sudden fist 
crushed the cartilage of nose 
across his face, 
but JC only grinned, 
and the man with the fist   
stumbled away. 

JC sings his work farm songs on the street,   
swaying with black overcoat and guitar,   
cigarettes cheaper than food. 
But today he promises 
four sandwiches, two for each of us. 

The landlady, a Rumanian widow, 
has nailed a death mask   
over JC’s bed, 
sleeping plaster face   
of a drowned girl 
peaceful in the dark. 

As the girl contemplates water   
and pigeons batter the window,   
JC spreads the last deviled ham   
on two slices of bread, 
presses them together, 
then slowly tears four pieces. 

“Here,” he almost sings,   
“four sandwiches.”


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