Transhumance

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In Madrid in a horror of sadness which spoke to me like a bluetooth. I went from plaza to plaza at great speed, because I had nowhere to go. Autumn: wind-up-the-sleeve cold.

In one courtyard, a Times Square muppet mascot – was it blue or red? – Cookie Monster or Elmo? Limp as pajamas and scarcely moving. I stopped and looked at it and at length I was aware that humans were gathering at the other end of the plaza, along the road.

I joined the people at the side of the road. When did I hear the sound? I remember the impression of hearing a great noise, but I don’t remember the sound or when it came to me. I remember the amiable, slow-speech bonking of cowbells. And then an extraordinary crowd of sheep: sheep-to-sheep throughout the entire road, and a man amongst them, in a wide hat and tassels.

The gray sheep and the sun on the plaza wall. More sheep came, endlessly. I looked at the other humans on the side of the road. I speak no Spanish. You do not often wonder in real earnest if you are asleep and dreaming. I wore a huge scarf and a coat and a new shirt and new tights – my own clothing had looked too ragged in the light to put on my body. I stood inside my scarf and looked at the sheep.

The sheep thinned off and now there was a bull, moving like a bobber on water. It rolled toward us and we stepped back as a group. The walking men with their long poles were not concerned. Sheep, and teenagers high up on horseback: a girl in shining embroidery and a long black braid.

In the subway a screen showed me what I had just seen. And in the night in the rain and yellow lights I walked between the bundled café umbrellas and I thought of how I would describe it.

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