Across the Charente | the gray Opel follows the coastline to the Spanish frontier, San Sebastián | Paco remembers those days gray, his memories in black and white—photos | it is not unusual.
The family on holiday, driving through France, across Spain and Monte Carlo along the way | stop to visit Rosin | on the outskirts of Biarritz ::Rosin was beautiful, a pale flower, stricken with infantile paralysis, immobile | the doctors said she was blind | but the mother swore she saw the child’s eyes follow her around the room, sitting comatose in a wheelchair | Rosin reminded Paco of a sad rag doll.
At the spa, the huge swimming pool for rehabilitation | bottom painted blue, but reflects the sky a monochrome Ansel Adams | in a young mind (again the black and white | photos kept in family albums) | a great sky full of clouds | all the way to horizon.
High on the slope of sparse grass, a plain | white cinder block pool house, chain link fence keeps out unwanted guests | a soda pop machine, dull red, oxidized by the sun, marked with familiar white letters, Coca-Cola | same green bottles, same dark liquid | quickly forgotten sadness and drink in the sun with Joaquin and Arabella | wait for the parents, their interview with hospital staff.
Return home trip stop at festival | drive through Bordeaux, catch the closing act | fireworks in the sky | a face illuminated in sparklers, flashed high in the air | “the Father of their country”—(Joaquin explains to the baffled boy) | sees George Washington on an electric dollar bill floating, in the French carnival sky.
::Rosin died at the age of seven | in the care of aunt Celeste | the Bronx, cold winter of 1957 | the family on transfer to the base at Newport News | Paco remembers, the mother spoke to her sister in New York | hung up, held his hand as they walked from the phone booth | across unpaved red-dirt Virginia, a country store parking lot | “Rosin murio” she moaned | inside the car she started to cry | they all cried.