Donostia/San Sebastian|Ryan Hibbett


You call it Donostia.
I’ll call it San Sebastian.

The same gloppy rain
greased our heads
along the same curve of sand.

Hunting seastones for my brother
we hiked our pantlegs and slipped
into the bluegreen rain-pimpled water,
misjudging waves until our pants were wet
to the crotch, then climbing out cold
having settled on a disc of basalt
bright black and smooth as a whale’s back.

The police were anxious that day.
Avoid the Casca Viejo, they said,
so we plashed through the residential
sector, where stucco houses oozed
dead rain, finding respite
in a hushed photo gallery
and some leche con azúcar
from the machine.

Not until we climbed the big hill
outside, cusping the city’s edge,
did I recognize that distant peg
for a statue of Christ. That’s where
we found her, slouched beneath
his feet—the redhead who broke
the silence with an offer to work
our camera there at the lookout point

and here, where a bloated lens-drop
holds us like a mystical orb,
blearing in prism-mist a people, their buildings
and beach, and the way I remember it all:
a thorough and distinct wetness.

Still no one is sure what to call the place.

Ryan Hibbett is an instructor of English at Northern Illinois University, specializing in twentieth-century British poetry and culture. He also composes and releases (as Gutta Percha) experimental ambient music, and has served as music review editor for Popular Music and Society. His poems have appeared in Atlanta Review and Eclectica, and are forthcoming in Potomac Review and Mad Poets Review.  

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