Monday, August 6, 2007

josefina's livingroom

a marvelous woman has passed from us. josefina yanguas, after 90 rich years, died this week.

barely five feet tall, her spirit was large as the mountains surrounding her native pamplona, spain. founder and presiding genius of the cafe pamplona, josefina's hospitality embraced nobel winners, teachers, readers, conversationalists, students. you were always her guest, not just a customer. many pamplona guests have been warmly loyal for decades.

in the cellar of her barn-red home she wove a josefina sized nest of friends, warmth, coffee and media noches. i have lingered thirty winters there and thirty summers savored the bright outdoor patio. i have drunk enough coffee there to thrombose a balzac. i have made fleeting friends and lifetime friends, read novels, newspapers, neruda. her cafe has given me half a lifetime of pleasure.

near the end josefina told a friend, "miss no pleasure. miss nothing." to me, she once said, "live with no fear."

miss nothing. no fear.

goodbye, courageous heart, gooddbye.


Womb of friends, conversations, books,
Marrow-cellar of human moods,
Door into feeling,
Iberian light slice,
I come to celebrate your seasons.
In June church shade
Or under September stars,
Reading Cervantes in the sun,
Unamuno by the rushing Dudley bus,
Lorca near your winter stove,
I have knit my soul to Spain here.
Speak to me your
Shaly consonants and grassy vowels,
Canciones earth-bright in your passionate home tongue.
When your steam machine roars
I hear bulls thunder through holy Pamplona.
Your caffeine music kindles my veins.
And your waiters - wonderful!
Generations, torrents, encyclopedias
Of waiters have rivered my years.
So I give you my praise song
Scratched within your cloud-white basement walls
My sweet space,
Hearth within my heart.
Bless all your twelve tables,
Rich calendar of my delight.

D.H. Brennan

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