Everywhere I look I see windows.
Here in Barcelona they are unscreened.
Sometimes they include squares of colored
glass. They may open onto narrow balconies
barred to keep you from falling into the street.
Sometimes I mistake what I see.
He may have parted his lips.
Sometimes I don’t see what I see.
He may have been about to say something.
My screened and newly cleaned window
looks out on the well, the Bay View
artesian well. The street. The public well.
The sirens. Sometimes I tune out what I hear.
He may have wanted to say something
to me. He filled jugs with water and was breathing.
I heard sirens in the distance but I was already back inside
intent on packing my bag for Barcelona. The sirens stopped.
I didn’t know they stopped outside my window. Close the window,
she said. It’s hot. Turn on the air. It is not hot. There is enough
air, a breeze through the leaded glass window. It is not
leaded. Between the panes, wood weathered grey. Old.
He was 67, the EMT said. He had ten jugs filled with water
my neighbor said. I saw the rhythmic up and down, up, down
of the EMT‘s back, his hands to the chest of the man I could no longer
see, could no longer hear if he wanted to say something to me.
Down, up, rhythmic, like breath. I saw when I finally looked out
my window, looked up from packing my bag after I did not see.
He may have wanted to say something to me.
A note in the Tàpies Museum declares a painting is not a window
but an object. On display a canvas turned to the wall looks like a window,
the canvas stretcher the panes, the canvas a shade, no air allowed in.
You cannot make a mistake if you see nothing. It doesn’t matter
how many windows, how hot, what breath or none. He was
67 years old. He filled 10 jugs with water.
He follows me to Barcelona.
Sometimes I see him through
an unscreened window.
The air stills.
As 2019-2020 Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Margaret Rozga co-edited the anthology Through This Door: Wisconsin in Poems (Art Night Books, 2020). Her fifth book of poems, Holding My Selves Together: New and Selected Poems, is forthcoming from Cornerstone Press in May 2021. She lives in Milwaukee.