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A GAY GANGSTERS' LIFE

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Jorge H. Aigla

AFTERNOONS


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.


Tardes

Esas tardes, los sábados de mi tierna niñez
en la Ciudad de México
fueron simplemente hermosas.
Era el tiempo en que los padres
estaban uno a uno con sus hijos,
y los llevaban a ver a amigos, a tomar un helado,
a platicar al parque, o a tiendas interesantes
desde que eran chiquitos.
Me acuerdo ir a una tienda
que vendía equipo de alpinista:
mi padre conocía a “El Cabrito”,
un escalador del gran Popocatépetl,
y él nos enseñaba botas, sogas y martillos,
y fotografías del Valle de México y de la nieve.
Otro lugar de mis ensueños era una esquina
en una parte antigua de la ciudad,
donde vendían modelos de aviones
con motorcitos de gasolina;
yo veía a los niños ricos comprar,
y nosotros volábamos en nuestros sueños.
Otro lugar era la tiendita del japonés Osawa,
que vendía conchas, mariposas, arañas, escarabajos
y otras alimañas y sabandijas disecadas;
por un par de pesos uno podía
aumentar una modesta colección.
Un laberinto en el sótano de una mansión
lo llevaba a uno al recinto de El Viejo Catalán
que vendía timbres y sellos postales;
tenía en su posesión la primera estampa de Juárez,
y prometió que nunca la vendería,
aunque tal vez me la regalaría algún día.
En un garaje Don Leopoldo vendía cosas de ingeniero:
reglas de cálculo con muchas filas, escuadras,
plumas finas, tinta china, compases complicados,
y con todo ello el amigo de mi padre
me trazó un mundo.
Esas tardes repletas, ya abandonadas,
ensombradas por la muerte,
deshechas por un mundo rápido y grosero,
me enseñaron lo que es llenar
el tiempo alerta.