Only when I look at your face
do I realize how strange the oblivion had been
â€” your face is like oblivion.
In it reflect the inhabitantsâ€™ living flesh and spirit,
in it the city assumes its disposition and only when the
night has fallen do I recognize its expression,
I donâ€™t know what it will be like in the day,
I have my doubts that you will be real in the sunlight,
with this fleeting step through the thickness of the
shadows spanning the crystal of the cold,
losing you in the depths of the city while I look for you,
hiding from my sight and breaking away from the
Hell in which, night after night, I believe I will be able to
and showing me with an uncertain glance someoneâ€™s
path, when I look at you and lose sight of you with just
enough time to follow the line of your eyes.
You, who always show up in the winter, year after year;
you, who get lost
and walk in the streets, and without meaning to, teach
me to live and help me to die,
you are the cold, are the city, your presence is a music
with the virtue of being heard only in its oblivion:
thanks to you I learned how to say goodbye,
and without you I would not have been able to do it as
I did, out loud in the face of destiny,
nor would I have been able to know the true cold and
go into it,
and stop fearing it,
â€” (because it was time to learn to be old, after all).
~ Jaime Saenz, trans. from Spanish by Kit Schluter
Jaime Saenz wroteÂ â€˜la nocheâ€™Â andÂ â€˜los papeles de narciso lima-achÃ¡â€™. He is said to have stolen a corpseâ€™s limb from the morgue, and to have brought a panther home to his wife on their wedding day.Â
Kit SchluterÂ is a poet, editor ofÂ Oâ€™Clock Press, and translator of Marcel Schwobâ€™sÂ â€˜the book of monelleâ€™Â andÂ â€˜the king in the golden maskâ€™.
Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from â€˜the coldâ€™,Â first published inÂ Poor Claudia.