SPOTLIGHT: A Man of Integrity by Meg Freer

A Man of Integrity

The label on the bottle,
bold white and red
on black: 3055, A MAN,

A charismatic man who led
an infectiously interesting life,
a Catalan poet who never
wrote a word, a poet of vines,

bold author of new wines
who combined grapes as never
before, as a poet ties together
words that have never met.

This is a eulogy for a man
from before my time, Jean Leon,
more than his New York City
taxi license number 3055,

more than the name of his wine,
a magnet for good fortune
who drove and drove, honed
the skills that would bring him fame.

Spain, 1941

Thirteen years old, 1941,
chaos in your small world,
fire for two days in Santander,
the medieval town center gone,

the cathedral a shell, your family
left homeless in more ways than one,
your father and brother’s lives claimed
by war, their ship sunk by a torpedo.

Nineteen years old, try and try, try
again to leave Spain. Stow away
at last on a merchant vessel
with one suitcase, little money.

New York

In a photo sent to your mother,
you stand on a rock in Central Park,
dapper and suave, skyline behind,
proof of arrival in New York.

But the suit jacket is borrowed.
No need to tell her there’s no need
for special clothes to work illegally
as a waiter, dishwasher, cab driver.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s