“Clear moments are so short.
There is much more darkness. More
ocean than terra firma. More
shadow than form.”—Adam Zagajewski, “Moment,” translated by Renata Gorczynski, in Tremor (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1985)
The useless dawn finds me in a deserted streetcorner; I have outlived the night.
Nights are proud waves: darkblue topheavy waves laden with all hues of deep spoil, laden with things unlikely and desirable.
Nights have a habit of mysterious gifts and refusals, of things half given away, half withheld, of joys with a dark hemisphere. Nights act that way, I tell you.
The surge, that night, left me the customary shreds and odd ends: some hated friends to chat with, music for dreams, and the smoking of bitter ashes. The things my hungry heart has no use for.
The big wave brought you.
Words, any words, your laughter; and you so lazily and incessantly beautiful. We talked and you have forgotten the words.
The shattering dawn finds me in a deserted street of my city.
Your profile turned away, the sounds that go to make your name, the lilt of your laughter: these are the illustrious toys you have left me.
I turn them over in the dawn, I lose them; I tell them to the few stray dogs and to the few stray stars of the dawn.
Your dark rich life…
I must get at you, somehow: I put away those illustrious toys you have left me, I want your hidden look, your real smile –that lonely, mocking smile your mirror knows.
“What can I hold you with?
I offer you lean streets, desperate sunsets, the moon of the ragged suburbs.
I offer you the bitterness of a man who has looked long and long at the lonely moon.
I offer you my ancestors, my dead men, the ghost that living men have honoured in marble: my father’s father killed in the frontier of Buenos Aires, two bullets through his lungs, bearded and dead, wrapped by his soldiers in the hide of a cow; my mother’s grandfather –just twentyfour- heading a charge of three hundred men in Perú, now ghosts on vanished horses.
I offer you whatever insight my books may hold, whatever manliness humour my life.
I offer you the loyalty of a man who has never been loyal.
I offer her that kernel of myself that I have saved, somehow – the central heart that deals not in words, traffics not with dreams and is untouched by time, by joy, by adversities.
I offer you the memory of a yellow rose seen at sunset, years before you were born.
I offer you explanations of yourself, theories about yourself, authentic and surprising news of yourself.
I can give you my loneliness, my darkness, the hunger of my heart; I am trying to bribe you with uncertainty, with danger, with defeat.”