Avinguda de la República Argentina, 1908

Summer, 2018 / No. 41

A man doffs his cap to the streetcar,

smiles at Ricardo de Baños, who operates

the camera machine. He balances

a silver box, cantilevered handles tipped in wood.

Leaning out, he’s an early modern, hurdy-gurdying.

The Spanish-made steel grinding beneath the streetcar

whistles (I’m thinking) toward the Barcelona hills.

The people who wave to the camera are gone.

Their bodies inaugurate a species

that waves to itself. The sped-up film

makes them look the way everything feels.

On the Avinguda de la República Argentina,

a man strides out of tree shadow

to get a better look at me. I shake his hand

a hundred and four years ago.

Michael Redhill is a poet, playwright, and novelist. His novel Bellevue Square won the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Last updated summer, 2018.