19 July, 2011

One Man's Wake

He goes around concerned more than usual
about time, life, other minor things like being,
dying without having found himself.

He was single-minded about this and on rainy days
he would go out and start asking if they had seen him
aboard some woman's eyes or somewhere along
the Brazilian coast in love with its pounding surf
or most likely at the funeral of his innocence.

He always had words or pale and miserable pieces
of love and of violent winds in reserve,
he had been about to enter death thirteen times
but came back from force of habit, he said.

Among other things he wanted
someone else to understand the world,
and this terrified loneliness itself.
Now they're holding this scary wake here
inside these walls on which his curses still come rolling off,

the rustle of his beard, still full of life, falls from his face
and no one who can smell him
will ever guess how much he wanted to enjoy the mystery of innocent love
and give water to his children.

As he returns his borrowed skin and bones to neglect,
he makes out his own figure in the distance and runs after himself,
so there's no doubt now
that it will soon begin to rain.

~ ~ Juan Gelman

Translated by Hardie St. Martin

Big Bridge, Issue #15 (Spring 2011).