Trees in this landscape
signal the presence of a river.
A side road leads us on—
parched grass, a rock horizon—
and winds us towards
a town watched over by
the blind eyes of a ruined castle:
This is Chinchon.
December a week away,
the place is half-deserted.
The square that can be converted
into a bullring or a theater
awaits the arrival of actors
to perform the piece by Lope de Vega
promised on the playbills.
We sit in the bar of the parador
in the midst of a floral display
on blue tiles, over a drink
that creates a circle of warmth
in the growing chill
and is also called Chinchon.
Aniseed. Anise is
what these dry fields feed,
with its yellowish-white small flowers
and licorice-flavored seed:
we are drinking the distillation
of Spain—a certain pungency
which is not unsweet, like the heat
and tang in the Spanish aspirate.
The sky looks down on our departure
through each one of the blind eyes
of the castle. The car
is a lost beetle in the vast
spreading amplitude of Castile
expanding around us. Snowflakes
over the far Guadarrama
feel for the mountain spine
that reaches to the heights like a line
of surf suddenly breaking on the peaks. Below,
burning stubble in the fields
is turning the twilight blue
and losing the thread of the road we are on,
Chinchón lamplit behind us, Chinchón gone.

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