Jaime Manrique

My Night with Federico Garcia Lorca

(as told by Edouard Roditi)

It happened in Paris.
Pepe asked me over to dinner
to meet a guy named Federico
who was on his way to New York.
I was nineteen years old.
Federico was eleven years older
and had just finished
a relationship in Spain
with a sculptor
who had been rotten to him.
Federico only had two lovers--
he hated promiscuous queens.

We were both Gemini.
Since astrology
was very important to him,
Federico took an interest in me.
We spoke in Spanish.
I had learned it
from my grandmother, a Sephardic
Jew, who had taught me
sixteenth-century expressions.
Federico was amused by all this.

We drank a lot of
wine that night.
In the morning, when I woke up,
his head lay across my nipples.
Hundreds of people
have asked me for details:
Was Federico fabulous in bed?
I always give them my standard answer:
Federico was emotional
and vulnerable; for him,
the most important thing wasn't sex
but tenderness.

I never saw him again.
The following day he left for England
then New York and Cuba.
Later, the second love
of his life was murdered
defending the Republic.

All this happened in Paris
almost sixty years ago.
It was just a night of love
but it has lasted all my life.

Copyright 1995, Jaime Manrique. Reprinted from My Night With Federico Garcia
with the author's permission.

Jamie Manrique was born in Barranquilla, Colombia. His first book of poetry won his
country's Eduardo Cote Lamus National Poetry Award. He has published three books
of poetry, including My Night With Federico Garcia Lorca (The Groundwater Press,
1995). He has also published three novels, including Latin Moon In Manhattan (St.
Martin's Press, 1992). He has completed a biography of Federico Garcia Lorca. In
March 1997, Faber and Faber will publish Twilight at the Equator (fiction).