* meeting at the Café San Martín

I came across this week’s poem – “Café San Martín” by Agustín Cadena – while reading through the anthology Goodbye Mexico: Poems of Remembrance. I find in the lyric a  subtly profound meditation on the past, or rather the past we live with in our memories which is always juxtaposed against the ever-changing the present.

This being the first week of June, I thought this an apt piece to share. In the poem, it is always June. The speaker’s address is one of emphasis: the name of a cafe no longer there is repeated until everywhere there are cafes. The moment the poem wins me over is when the speaker’s shoes fill with water, as if the rain were a memory seeking him out.

* plaza lo que plaza *
* plaza lo que plaza *

Café San Martín – Agustín Cadena*

Do you remember the Café San Martín?

I do, sometimes,

when it rains in the afternoon and it’s summer.

We liked to go there and drink coffee

and smoke while we looked at the rain.

The Café San Martín was small,

lukewarm, and it had big windows

that looked onto a meridian of June.

But it is no longer there.

Now on that corner where it was

they sell video games.

Have you tried to go back?

Have you walked in the rain, alone,

remembering the girl you were

and asking yourself where would these people have gone,

with their pink curtains and old spoons

and their Café San Martín?

Yes, I have wanted to go back,

many times,

when I happen to think of you,

when my shoes fill with water

and I wish I were that age again

and not so foolish

as to let go of your hand that afternoon.

Once again it is June and raining.

Everywhere there are cafés

in certain neighborhoods.

The present erases all traces.

*translated by C. M. Mayo


Happy tracing!


5 responses to “* meeting at the Café San Martín”

  1. This is a most amazing anthology, Jose. I’ve been enjoying it much…and I love this poem.

    1. Glad you liked it! My own poem in the anthology, “Small Fires,” is the title piece of a full-length manuscript I’m presently submitting. I wrote it specifically for this anthology’s call for submissions. It opened up a lot for me. Best, Jose

      1. Delighted to hear about “Small Fires” — gives me something to fill the “look forward to” slot with that’s just been opened up with today’s release of “Reasons (Not) to Dance”!

  2. This is a great find. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

    1. Glad you liked it, Tony! Also, thank you for also sharing your fine fiction with me 🙂

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