Afternoons

By Jorge H. Aigla

Those afternoons, the Saturdays of my tender childhood
in Mexico City
were just lovely.
It was the time when fathers
were one on one with their sons,
and took them to see friends, have an ice,
talk in the park, or to intriguing stores
from their youth.
I remember going to a store
that sold mountain climbing equipment:
my father knew “The Goat,”
one of the climbers of the great Popocatepetl,
and he would show us boots, ropes, and hammers,
and photographs of the Valley of Mexico and of snow.
Another place in my fantasy was a corner
in the old section of the city,
where they sold model airplanes
with gasoline engines;
I would watch the wealthy kids buy
and we in our dreams would fly.
Another place was the small shop of the Japanese man, Osawa,
who sold shells, butterflies, spiders, beetles,
and other vermin and dried creepers;
for a few pesos one could well
enlarge a modest collection.
A labyrinth in the basement of a mansion
led one to the abode of the Old Catalán
who sold stamps and postal seals;
he had in his possession the first stamp of Juárez,
and promised never to sell it,
though perhaps, he might give it to me some day.
In a garage Don Leopoldo sold supplies for engineers:
slide rules with many rows, squares,
fine pens, india ink, complicated compasses,
and with all this my father’s friend
traced a world for me.
Those crammed afternoons, already abandoned,
shadowed by death,
undone by a fast and coarse world,
taught me what it is to fill out
the alertness of time.