V I C E N T E H U I D O B R O
Translated by Tony Frazer
Above all you must know how often we have to abandon our bride and flee from affair to affair to the ends of the earth.
There where emptiness draws its violin bow over the horizon and a man is transformed into a bird and an angel into a precious stone.
The Eternal Father fashions darkness in his laboratory and strives to turn blind men deaf. He has one eye in his hand and knows not to whom he should give it. And in a jar he keeps an ear mating with an eye.
We are far off, at the end of all things, where a man hanging from a star by his feet swings head-down in space. The wind that bends the trees ruffles his hair.
Flying streams land in new forests where birds curse the appearance of so many useless flowers.
How right they are to insult the fluttering of these dark things.
If it were only a question of beheading the captain of the flowers and making the heart of superfluous feeling bleed, the heart full of secrets and shards of the universe.
The mouth of a man in love on a drum.
The breasts of the unforgettable girl nailed to a tree where they can be pecked by nightingales.
And the hero's statue at the Pole.
All must be destroyed, all of it, with bullet and blade.
Idols fight it out under water.
— Isolde, Isolde, how many kilometers separate us, how many affairs between you and me.
You well know that God pulls out the eyes of flowers, as he has a penchant for blindness.
And he transforms the spirit into a packet of quills and transforms brides seated on roses into pianola snakes, into snakes that are sister to the flute, the same flute that is kissed on snowy nights and that calls to them from afar.
But you don't know why the blackbird shreds the tree with its bloody talons.
And this is the mystery.
Forty days and forty nights clambering from branch to branch as in the days of the Flood. Forty days and forty nights of mystery among rocks and peaks.
I could fall from destiny to destiny, but I will always retain the memory of the sky.
Have you experienced visions from on high? Have you seen the heart of the light? At times I become a vast forest and march across worlds like an army.
Look at the entrance to the rivers.
Some evenings the sea can scarcely be my theatre.
The street of dreams has no trees, nor a woman crucified in a flower, nor a ship sailing the pages of the sea.
The street of dreams has an enormous navel from which a bottle protrudes. Inside the bottle there is a dead bishop who changes color whenever the bottle moves.
There are four candles that light up and go out one after another. Sometimes a flash of lightning allows us to see in the sky a woman in tatters who has been falling for a hundred and forty years.
The sky conceals its mystery.
On every step up the scale one suspects a hidden assassin. Faint-hearted singers die just thinking of it.
So it is that weak butterflies will return to the caterpillar stage they should never have left. The ear will fall back into childhood and will be filled with marine echoes and with those algae that float in the eyes of certain birds.
Only Isolde knows the mystery. But she plucks at the rainbow, her trembling fingers seeking a special sound.
And if a blackbird pecks at her eye, she lets it drink whatever water it wants with the smile that attracts herds of buffalo.
Above which heart, swollen with bitterness, could you float in all the oceans, in any sea?
Surely you must know that it is dangerous to cling to a heart as if it were a buoy, because of the marine caverns that attract them, and the octopi that are knots of snakes or elephant trunks keep the exit permanently closed.
Pay heed to a mountain with its hands raised, begging pardon, and bear in mind that it is less dangerous than the seas and more amenable to friendship.
However it is your destiny to love danger, the danger that lies inside and outside you, to kiss the lips of the abyss counting on dark aid for the final triumph of all your endeavors and your dew-covered dreams at dawn.
On the contrary, give thanks and withdraw into the depths of the memory of your men.
— Isolde, Isolde, in the Ice Age bears were flowers. When the thaw came they were freed and escaped in all directions.
Think of the resurrection.
Only you know the miracle. You have seen the miracle performed in the presence of one hundred enchanted harps and all the cannons aimed at the horizon.
Then there was a procession of sailors before a king in a far-off land. The waves impatiently awaited their return, while the sea applauded.
The thermometer dropped slowly because the blackbird had stopped singing and thought of leaping from a trapeze to the centre of the world.
Now I fear only one thing and it is that you might emerge from some lamp or vase and speak to me in eloquent terms in the manner of evening magnolias. The room would fill with dying dragonflies and I would have to sit down so as not to faint.
Death would be thought itself. Reflected everywhere where the eyes return.
Above the castle the general's skeleton will signal like a traffic-light. We will count the skulls that crawl through the field tied by endless cords to the tail of a sleepwalking horse that no-one claims as his own.
Black slaves will applaud over the bellies of slave girls so intoxicated that they do not realize the wind is a ghost and the trees are floating above a cemetery.
Who has counted all his dead?
And if all the windows were opened and all the lamps began to sing and the cemetery caught fire?
For every bird in the sky there will be a hunter on the ground.
Bugles will sound and flags will be turned into flares. Faith is dead; dead too are the birds of prey that were gnawing at your heart.
Migratory statues fly by.
On the immense plain the torments of idols can be heard amongst the songs of trees.
Flowers flee in terror.
The doors of an unknown music are opened and out come the years of the mage who remains seated in his agony, his hands on his chest. How many things have died inside us. How much death do we carry inside us. Why do we hold on to our dead? Why do we persist in reviving our dead? They prevent us from seeing ideas born. The arrival of new light frightens us, as unaccustomed to it as to our motionless dead, who lack dangerous surprises. The dead have to be left behind for the sake of the living.
— Isolde, bury all your dead.
Think, remember, forget. May your memory forget your memories, may your forgetting remember what it has forgotten. Take care not to die before your death.
How does one grant a little greatness to this current creature that only bends its weary knees at this late hour when the moon comes flying in and stands before you.
And nevertheless we live in hope of some luck, the appearance of an astral sign in this expiatory of the beyond, that not even the sound of our bells manages to penetrate.
Waiting, thus, for the big chance.
Let the North Pole be detached like a hat raised in greeting.
Let the continent that we have watched over so long emerge, seated here behind the bars of the horizon.
Let the assassin run past, firing wild shots at his pursuers.
Let it be known why it was that girl who was born and not the boy promised in dreams and foretold so many times.
Let the corpse appear that yawns and stretches beneath the earth.
Let the glorious ghost be seen passing through sky groves.
Let all rivers be halted immediately with one commanding voice.
Let the sky change location.
Let the seas mount up in a great pyramid higher than the babels dreamed of by ambition.
Let a desperate wind blow and extinguish the stars.
Let a luminous finger write a word in the night sky.
Let the house across the street collapse.
For this do we live, believe me, for this do we live and for nothing else. For this we have a voice and for this our voice has a net.
And for this we have this wretched racing in our veins and this galloping of a wounded animal in our chest.
It is for this that flesh reddens, martyred by words, and thought grows, watered by subterranean rivers. For this the howl of fear inherited from the most tragic of grandfathers.
Cut off the head of the monster that roars at dream's door. And then don't let anyone forbid anything.
Someone speaks and a poppy is born at the voice's pinnacle before the opiate of the observed future can glitter.
— Peace on earth to the night sailor.
Silent explorers raise their heads and adventure is stripped of its suit of gold.
Here is the meaning of sunset.
Perhaps the sunset will notice us and then you will have understood the signs of night. The look of the dream. The threshold of the abyss. The mountain journey.
The desert of night.
Isolde, Isolde, I follow my destiny.
Where did you hide the oasis you promised me so often?
The light grew tired of moving.
Tell me, where are you taking this stairway that springs from your eyes and then is lost in the air?
Do you know that it is my destiny to move? Do you know the explorer's vanity and the ghost of adventure?
It is a question of flesh and blood being confronted by a special magnet. It is an irrevocable destiny, a meteor out of fable.
It is not a question of love made flesh, it is a question of life, a question of the traveling spirit, of a nomadic bird.
All these women might be unnecessary trees or headstones on the path.
Bottles of water or barrels of delight, mostly without their own lighting. Like cathedrals they adhere to musical principles. Each chord has its correspondent and everything depends on knowing how to reach the echo point, the responsory. It is simple to weave sounds and construct a true roof or magnificent domes for rainy days.
If destiny permits, we can fool ourselves for a while and count the fingers of whoever stretches out his arms to us.
Then the ghost will force us to proceed. We will leap over the beating breasts that are her domes because, lying on her back, she is like a temple. Or rather, it is temples that imitate women, with their breast-like towers, their central head-like dome and their doorway that wishes to imitate the vulva where one enters looking for the life that throbs in the womb and from which life itself issues forth.
But we do not have to accept such imitations, nor can we believe in such a life. In this life which emerges, eyes blindfolded, and crashes through all the trees in the countryside. We will only believe in flowers that are giants' cradles, although we know that inside every bud sleeps a dwarf.
And in the distance the mountains of living rock smile sweetly.
The mountains smile because a blind man has sat down on their peaks to hear the volcano's drum-rolls. But what happens on the plains is more important, for the trees in the forest have been turned into snakes and fight one another rhythmically, driven on by a special flute.
I forgot to tell you that there is also a lake that becomes ever more distant, depending how the wind blows. Sometimes it is almost lost from view, sometimes it is gone for long years and returns in different colors. Sometimes it is hungry and curses the men who are not shipwrecked at the appointed hour. Other times it walks on four legs and gnaws for hours and hours on the scraps of so much tragedy tossed onto its shores or the reflections of who knows what secret times.
If the eye's bird falls into the lake, a geyser erupts in the mountains. A beautiful geyser like a tree, with a woman balanced on its tip.
The lake too can balance at the top of the tree. Everything depends on my willingness and on the drum increasing tempo.
All those spies hiding behind trees are not waiting for the miracle they would have us believe in, but rather the naked blind woman who comes out in the afternoon for a walk with her lost statue and who might collide with them.
You are wasting time.
Look, look, there's a fire on the moon.
Dressed in white, Isolde came like a cloud. Then the moon began to fall enveloped in flames. On the beaches danced a reflection of fire.
Specters emerged one by one from every surging wave. You who are hidden there, the hour of fear has arrived before the voracity of death.
The setting sun forms a halo over the head of the last shipwrecked sailor who floats adrift no longer hearing the songs of the shore.
Wolves pass by with shining eyes amidst the foliage of night, bound tightly together and wailing for no real reason.
That man there, bigger than the others, opens his mouth in the middle of the garden and begins to swallow glow-worms for hour upon hour.
A strange pain causes the trees to twist together. And billions of meteors falling from the sky form spirals in our atmosphere as if they were stones in the water.
A thick smoke envelops everything. Only the wolves' eyes and the man full of glow-worms shine. The rest is shadow.
The mountain opens its doors and the blind man enters with arms outstretched.
There is a tree, a massive tree writhing in the fire of dusk..
Up above God is rocking a new-born planet.
Halos fall over the earth. One after another hundreds of halos fall over the earth, some of them over certain heads . . . And nothing else?
An island of palm trees surges up from the sea for the newly-weds walking arm in arm.
One day one of them will find the head that he had lost, motionless in the very place where he'd lost it.
When? Where? Which of them?
Here is torment, Isolde, beyond the mountain. There is torment.
The migratory forests will not come this far.
There is a solitary sandal in the centre of the earth.
The passing of evenings can be sensed at the bottom of the sea. At the point when everything glows with intoxication.
There is a hat over there at head height.
There is a staff driven into the soil, hand high.
And there is nothing more. Because none of you can see the ghost smiling at the dog this very moment.
No one knows why the curtains behind the bed moved.
Nor why Isolde's cheeks blushed like two curtains coming open.
And why her legs trembled like two curtains being parted.
* * *
At dawn I could weep to see you smile.
I could beg a greeting from the specter that walks on solemnly to the Stone Age.
This you know well, for you I will flash like a reflection from forest to forest. What more do you want?
Two bodies entwined domesticate eternity.
And it is essential to kneel down.
Then the castle turns into a flower, the ear into a river full of boats and all kinds of fish.
The piano turns into a mountain, the sea into a little artichoke that spins like a mill-wheel.
The nerves turn into a tree full of tremors and its tremors multiply by night repeatedly until infinity.
The brain rolls down the body and vanishes who knows where. At the same moment the forests flee in disorder.
The ordeal of the bones begins with the bag of clouds on their backs, coming down from the pinnacle of the silent womb, sad as a witch's bird, sad as the flower threatened at night-time.
Prepared by solitude, everything is possible. Of course, a woman hanging from each lamp swings in the air that we breathe. A music emerges from every picture on the wall, since we know that every landscape is a musical instrument. And behind every door an impatient skeleton waits.
Completely abandoned, secluded, the night weeps. The night that listened to your heart. The night — you remember? — when the curtains took on the form of ears and formed eyelids with silent lashes. Then I bent over you as if over a dissecting table, sank my lips into you and watched you; your womb like a fresh wound and your eyes like the end of the world.
Dragged down by solitude, Isolde, we sank into the night that awaited us at the foot of the house.
* * *
We have walked often. Searchlights scanned desperately through the night, from side to side, and crossed into infinity, greeting each other, and said their farewells forever. Suddenly a hand appeared in the midst of the sky, a hand like that of a shipwrecked man, that between its fingers squeezed the head of a bird falling slowly over the earth, no protest from its lips.
We were by the sea. A wave came rushing up, fished out the dead bird and carried it off.
The mountain by the shore had a slight chill, and then from its cetacean back spouted a jet of fresh, crystalline water while a wave rolled over the beacon within a distant window.
Thus returned the hour of serenity, led by the hand of a comet that no-one knew how to name and that the children called, no-one knew why, Eloísa's Hair.
Still visible at night, the eye floating on the sea like a desolate almond.
Still visible, the trawler passing through the air with outstretched nets.
Still visible, the drowned man floating, his body illumined between two waters.
Still visible, the sailing ship like a cross on its infinite Golgotha.
Still visible, the pirates clinging to the keel and the captain hanging from the tallest mast on the high seas.
Still visible in the flash of lightning, the pale helmsman, his beard to the wind.
Still visible in the flash of lightning, the naked beauty, her breasts swollen.
Still visible in the flash of lightning, the horse of a kidnapper lost in the distance.
Still visible on moonlit nights, the floating hand.
But the sirens, fishing with their hair enmeshed in nets are not seen again, and we have waited in vain.
We have greeted all the waves, watched attentively, waved our hats and handkerchiefs, played dice with their breasts on board thousands of ships. All useless. Dawn's accomplices heard the flowers on their journey, heard the progress of polar light and once again the hero's advance to the Stone Age.
But no-one will see the sirens' torment.
In vain you raise fingers to point out every fold in the sea and every tremor in the clouds.
I tell you, she is more hidden than night.
A bird solitary as the sea flies off slowly, perhaps because of your cries.
It flies off slowly, I said, to the marvels of its own dream. It flies off bearing the sense of the evening.
Not for you the panorama of the rising secret. What do you know of meetings in eternity?
I tell you again, she is more hidden than night at noontime.
Uselessly, we prepare for the fortunate exploration. Not toward the impassive fish scarcely lit by the sea's inner light, scarcely rocked by silence or solitude.
* * *
Who was the murderer?
Before the judge is the body of a woman like the mummy of the most beautiful of pharaoh's wives.
Uselessly the judge examines the eyes of the bystanders. No eye present matches the wound that still bleeds on the naked chest.
A violent squall closes all eyelids. The judge flushes with anger.
— Gentlemen, who heard the shot?
Did no-one see a shadow escape through the window? No-one saw a light in the middle of the night?
All eyes return to the big man consuming glow-worms in the garden.
Through the transparency of his body something like a hidden dagger or a lily is visible, but the tranquility of the accused sows doubt in his accusers.
Two tears roll down his cheeks.
— He's the one, he's the one, shout some.
— Not him, not him, shout others.
A drum-roll descends from the sky as though a rain of stones were falling on the moon.
The accused remains unmoved. With large eyes, unblinking, steady even at the moment when he feels a crown beginning to form on his brow.
Everyone looks toward the street. The procession that erupted from the triumphant explosion is crossing. Banners unfurled like the wind. Everyone watches, but he doesn't even glance that way.
— To the criminal; to the criminal.
When the mob leaped up, a thousand raised fists surged forward to smash a marble statue gazing steadily at the horizon.
Then on the horizon a comet with a long gown of glow-worms appeared and began to climb above the sky which received it with open arms.
A few moments later, a window opened in the depths of the same horizon, and the bride with bedroom eyes came forth to observe the comet, trying to divine the omen, perhaps painful, that its presence amongst mankind announced. What magic signs does the bride make with her sky-white hands? In her right hand she holds a perfect diamond from which a fountain of waters begins springing towards us.
Suddenly a deafening scream rises into the air:
— To the guillotine. The guillotine, the guillotine.
Moments later, when the fatal knife had cut off the marble head of the accused in front of the bloodthirsty mob, an enormous jet of light spurted unceasingly from his neck.
At the selfsame moment there was a terrifying tremor in the sky. Stars broke into a thousand pieces, planets burst into flames, pieces of moons flew past, burnt coals leaped from the volcanoes of other stars and came squawking to penetrate men's bulging eyes.
The mob fled in terror. Some hid below ground, seeking aid, others fell to their knees beating their breasts and begging forgiveness, arms raised to the heavens.
The jet of light still welled up from the neck of the executed man on the gibbet.
* * *
Amidst the catastrophe and general confusion, arms more powerful than a hundred seas clutched at my neck.
— Isolde, Isolde, is it you?
— How many years were we apart.
— A hecatomb like this was necessary for us to meet again.
— You, tree of wisdom, your eyes mature in dream's door and that elephant gait with the feet of an idol.
— Let me see your breasts. Show me those age-old breasts, your breasts of alpha and omega.
— Always awaiting the age of marvels like the magician's dove.
— Give me your breasts to kiss.
The imprisoned angel cuts his chains and flies through the air, pursued in vain by a few amateur shots.
Powerful, solitary, night began to fall again. The snakes illuminated by the storm ran in leaps and bounds after the liberated angel, impossible to catch.
Isolde clings to me, embedded in my arms.
In the lightning-forge hammering can be heard as the storm shapes the crown for my kingly head.
How many will be blinded by this brilliant crown!
Innumerable are those who, upon seeing it, contemplate their lives' final vision. The handsome giant in his final agony at sea asks only to see it so as to return to life or die in peace.
Many are the visions engraved on it as on a frieze. One can observe the body of a woman burning in the fire that rises from her own flesh and there is no way to extinguish the flames.
And so many other visions. Like that of dwarfs flying past, carrying on their shoulders the coffin of a Titan.
And that of the island snatched away by the wind that falls over the city.
And that of lightning interwoven with storm rains.
And that of palm trees bent double by the hurricane's wheels.
And that of the mountain of clouds that stops for so long that a sweet vegetation begins to grow on it.
And that of the bitter night when someone is dying.
I believe that the moment has come to think of the night when we ourselves will die.
Isolde, I love you, and it was only by seeking out others that I have come to love you more.
Bitter is the night and deep the abyss where your arms hurled me. I am falling, twitching, with hands desperate as a Niagara irretrievably lost.
Whitecaps spray my face before reaching the bottom. Noise deafens my ears, bouncing off my brain, before my body is dashed to pieces at the bottom.
I keep smiling nonetheless, hopeful that in an instant my body will feel lighter than air.
O that a lasso might fall from some star and fish me out, raise me up at the precise moment that I reach the ground.
Isolde, my attitude here is that of the perfect man.
The wind moves me from one place to another. Below, the gaze of men tethers me to their earthly terror on a sad plain with a single house visible in the distance and a cloud of smoke that tries to raise it to the sky.
The domestic crime scene can never be freed from its little crumb of a place. But though the spectacle has become so pitiful, the night is more brilliant than ever, there is no place free in all the heavens. And this to see what?
The beautiful woman's throat has the form of a song.
And she will sing, will sing sure that I am not yet dead. She will sing despite the season's waning, despite the night rolling in from the mountains, despite the difficulty of the terrain. She will sing.
And the child will cease to cry over his little white boat. And the finest of stars will come out above his head, at the back of the bedroom, beyond the delicate pillows, in the true reefs of his last dream.
Perhaps we will hear the confused voice in a vast song because the sea is suspended over several pianolas and sometimes abandons itself to its own instincts.
Then comes the hour of transfiguration. The sea sweats, contorted in intimate pain. Each wave becomes an angel and begins to fly.
Woe unto him who dared raise a hand to the sea!
You do not know and so I tell you: by night, when no-one watches, the sea turns into a great monument and they say that at the shore it rises to its feet, solemn, a statue of itself.
No-one will ever know the truth of it, nor the number of mistakes that drives men every moment of their lives.
On how many mistakes do man's inventions rest?
Inventions finer than an electric spark, or a woman's legs. Here all wise men bow, here prophets kneel, here the cock crows and where its song ends a landscape is born like the one you know. Afterwards you can only see the hands of the shipwrecked clinging to the waves and a bottle that floats off to recount their tragic story.
Isolde, if you only knew!
The sky has changed seven times. And it will change again because of the sea. Because the sea has become a balloon, slipped its moorings and gone off through the sky.
What do you mean by pointing your cannons and ringing bells?
On the horizon, the setting sun reaches out a hand and observes us from just behind its five fingers, separated like the spokes of a wheel. What can we do?
Above the empty countryside an egg falls from an eagle flying by, unaware of its destination. This will be the field of fertility for years to come and perhaps a great capital will rise here.
Telescopes are raised and lost in eternity. The sky strips off. Meteorites and lightning-flashes cross beyond the Milky Way, the ceremonial procession of comets passes by and now no-one fears the wrath of God.
The sky strips off and the agonized eyes of someone who believed in everything appears.
The sky strips off and the nocturnal ghost that brings daily bread to the stars appears.
The sky strips off and the cave of candelabras appears, in its centre the woman of flesh that we all know slumbers, wrapped in her tresses.
Zebras gallop by in their sleep and there are windows that open onto darkness like parasites stuck to the night.
Ah, if only you knew! I am hidden inside your shadow. I am the newborn tree in your eyes. I am the child barefoot like a statue that calls out from the shipwreck amidst impassive reflections.
I am the specter that leaves, guided by its doves, those doves full of wisdom that feed off the flickering light of streetlamps.
I have grown exhausted here, and terrible, more terrible than the drifting ship that howls through the sky and dies quietly like a man or a dog feeling for the first time the weight of the skeleton beneath its skin.
Ah, if you could see it! When the maternal womb opens like a cage and the woman raises her arms to infinity offering all flights to come.
If you could see it. The trembling roofs before they rise up forever. The roofs that will go who knows where, laden with clouds.
If you could see now the insect that jumps at the contact of two vindictive cables and can assume the form of a man, as far as the attentive observer's eye can tell.
And the unconsciousness of night surrounded by a deep channel; the unconsciousness of trees that frequently clash. How many times have I seen them tug at each other's hair, insult each other over a bird.
Before such mysteries, such occult powers, the unconsciousness of the sea that could cleave at any moment is an incredible thing.
But you know the day will come when they will be touched by grace like the mountains and each in turn will have its halo.
Then we shall see the girls as they come out of school, flying lightly with their tresses in the wind as far as the kite that awaits them at the volcano's entrance.
We shall see the statue that wanders above the houses, washed by rain like a warrior's wounds. We shall see the transformations of silence and the ecstasy to be observed in sunset games and then the star twinkling on the currents of air.
But only man in his agony will see a flower waving its hands inside the womb of the beloved woman. And afterwards death will be drunk in one gulp.
The woman will be able to leave, sweeping life aside with her skirts; she will wait naked above the night, her beauty set free.
She will come out on the balcony of her beauty, will walk around with her white back full of nights not worrying whether rain will fall on her bones, rain in which now and again the destitute can be hung. But she smells sadness, hears the voices of tombs and opens her mouth to chew on death.
The man who approaches is blindfolded and raises a hymn or an aquatic plant in his hand.
All bridges collapse and the queen cannot pass, the queen whose mind is perfumed by her thoughts, the queen with blue eyes redolent of the sea.
Through her pores fever escapes and her five senses perish at the very door of mystery.
Only the heart's breast keeps on living, surrounded by its vassals, with all their statuary myths. It keeps on living and watching, watching like a bulging eye, not obeying the orders of the Creator, who thunders from the depths of his dreams.
How many bags of gold the greedy man piles up in his cavern to buy that breast that will float until the end of ages in his barrel of memories!
Perhaps a clumsy boy, lips poisoned with chimeras, will gnaw on him, now that so many hands are extended to him. Perhaps, older than his years, he will be letting loose a furious battle for the vulva foretold, idling beneath the shadow's robes.
She is the ghost with transparent skin who in place of a face has a circular space between hair and neck.
Flee, delicate child, with your crown of caresses on your head. Flee, I tell you, to the polar caves and sing while the legendary beauty listens to the sound of bullets that follow her.
* * *
The net that others could wait for is extended from breast to breast.
During the night, the sweet tremor hides in undersea caves. There the pearl-diver descends, and now and again he has found there the legendary girl with bound arms spread over the waters. Then once again he ascends the ladder suspended from night and is lost amongst birds of ill-omen.
From the highest rock he can toss a rope to the woman crucified amongst her spoils and raise her to the treetops, to which all those who still remember the Flood climb anxiously.
Run and dry yourselves in the mouth of the volcano that will soon raise its banners in triumph.
Earthly child, when you try to blend wings with your moist eyes, you forget the flowering of the internal labyrinth, you forget the luminous cave of the possessed.
The volcano can remind you of whatever you forget and will throw you a flower in its memory, then you will see the whole universe pass before you, as the savage camped on the mountain sees the hurricane passing or the river full of uprooted trees.
The woman we all know will leave you on the shores of wandering stars with the weight of her tresses on her shoulders, will leave under a moon swollen with gluttony or perhaps through the occasional rain of eternal snows. The woman will leave with a handsome corpse beneath her arm and will suddenly see an island of violent colors coming towards her.
Her majestic tresses will fall across the sea amidst age-old algae. She will be clothed in madness with her own light only and will be like a silken screen seen by a dying man.
Meanwhile, the other, in his prison of knowledge, will not be able to raise his eyes from any book or microscope without seeing the statue with enormous breasts and polished belly that brings its own heart to life.
This is the statue of living alcohol that gushes forth from the pores and falls in a cascade towards shackled feet.
And this game that you believed was the game of life is not, nor is it the game of death.
It is man on top of woman from the beginning of the world, until the end of the world. Man eternally on top of woman like the stone above the tomb.
You are none other than death on top of death. Consider the last spasms of her who dies in death.
So, you traverse life locked into death.
— Isolde, in vain you sigh at night, in vain you cry out my name when I no longer hear, when a bloody sweat covers my ears, when the sky empties into my retina. Every man is a coward. Don't believe in the exceptional things that your dream, fallen from other less tangible stars, paints for you. The mystic is the man in terror, the man who does not want to be alone, the one who wants to be two out of fear of loneliness.
Ah, if only you knew!
What I would not give to silence them with their bluish voices and break the forms and colors of their eternal or transient feelings, always sweet, too sweet for the palate of an infinite shipwrecked man.
Events are above the human voice. The phenomenon now condensed in a marble banner is much more important than your arts, artifices, or snares.
Music-paper is a seedbed with no destiny. No future forests will sprout there, look at it, scarcely a momentary vineyard has been marked out.
The sea brings the sensitive coffin to the door of your house, perhaps to your bedside, so that you can shut yourself in with your sweet hysteria and shrieks, those filthy shrieks, filthy as the tears of the algebraic proof of pain.
Shut your self in it so that the seed cannot escape your womb, that could be a piano with its twilight microbes, a piano with a turbulent soul that jumps up like boiling water.
Lift your arms, woman, and beg forgiveness of the creature that swings between your legs and wishes to know nothing of the light from your household lamps.
Blow, blow and extinguish these chimerical lights with a magic word. Blow and extinguish the statue that is going to ask directions, that would like to know how the weather will be tomorrow.
Lower the finger that you are going to use to point out the available destiny, your experiences of shadow, while a ship sinks and jumps from tornado to tornado, from abyss to abyss under the black sky.
Better to use your time shaking your hair like a simple sea that listens to its gentle birds while crossing the afternoon.
Keep your night-time lectures for the mob in a hollow festival, leaning on the harbr railings. Keep for them the ritual of your breasts that can be steadied no longer.
Soon the king's coach must carry you off with your womb and your legs, your cometary gaze through the applauding crowd. What more do you want?
The palace has stairways that lead who knows where, columns support ogives from planet to planet and all the vases contain severed heads. Behind the bars you can see eternity sleeping in indescribable peacefulness. What more do you want?
This is your destiny. Let everyone have freedom who, at the beginning or the end of the flight, is like a shelter or a harbor. And now be quiet.
The dying man purses his lips so that the definitive bird does not escape to sing its song on other rocks.
Everything obeys the cadence of a voice that falls whence no-one knows.
Here I have the destiny of a magnetic butterfly.
Here the skeleton patiently awaits its time, hidden in the shadows. The final skeleton that will play chess beneath its earthly house, while its hats live in the streets outside.
And you could weep because the tree's horoscope is similar.
Hide your caresses in the caves of polar birds where the man gets stalactites in his eyes and the woman runs leaping amongst icebergs.
— Isolde, now the hurricane comes laying waste the cemetery of gazes, now the hurricane comes with the speed of planets launched to their destiny.
Let us hide in the deepest catacombs and carve our names in the soft stone by the niche where we must rest for eternity.
There the curious of tomorrow will find our skulls or our bones intertwined.
Time's brow bleeds in darkness without nocturnal rest, bleeds, shattered by mountains of thorns.
What does it matter!
On the terrace of the final summit my throat was swallowing all the thunder from the sky, my fingers stroked the lightning's back, while the sun behind the night regrouped its forces and prepared for the following day's attack.
Do you hear the sound of waves crashing because of the darkness?
Do not fear. Let us go. It is death's ship. The beloved monster comes closer and licks at our hands.
The earth is gentle and mild like the mattress of eternity.
The wife invites us to the festival of her entrails. Her kiss has the taste of infinity's lips and must carry us further than anyone could have thought possible.
Now you pass by and I see the geological arborescences inside your illumined heart that demonstrate your age on earth.
Do you hear the sound of waves shattering the night? Do you hear the sound of waves banging their heads together?
Now you pass by and are lost in landscapes that were impregnable yesterday, you travel roads that live but are as ambiguous as ever.
You will soon meet the ghost that cries out: every man for himself, and flings its feelings and memories overboard in order to lighten the load.
You will meet someone who tosses out his years like the ballast from a balloon and then sings of his recklessness with the voice of a shackled and satisfied bridegroom.
You will meet the man who knows everything, the grieving man who is aware of everything, who always has an answer ready, ripe words in the foliage of his lips, the man who has studied the flower's innards, who knows the past, the present and the future and the genealogy of every wave.
In spite of all this, the mystery will appear in luxurious clothing. The delicate happiness of its throbbing breast or the pain of its eyes that want only to be set free, have no reason to fear such rivals.
Woman, look into my eyes, these eyes condemned to perpetual chains.
And consider that I could enter God as a diver does the sea.
But there is no God deep enough for my heart, for the anguish of this heart grown used to the biggest waves and my heart prefers to vegetate in its harbour, rot amongst the algae.
Don't think I am afraid.
Not even an earthquake shakes me when my eyes open wide and see what can be seen at the moment of death. Because I have seen what you will see only then.
I am not afraid. I only tremble when I sometimes encounter my voice in a man from the past.
Isolde, watch me in battle, watch me at the most desperate moment, when everything is lost. Then, yes, I am me, and I surely appear more handsome than a ship in a battle to the death with the sea.
That's what I say and I prepare to be a root, while the earth flees raging through the heavens, while the moon glances from the corner of its eye, and air loses its limits.
What are you doing there, all dressed in black, at the door of my house awaiting my burial with crowns and laurels? Suppose I order my corpse to be thrown to the dogs?
* * *
Every burden is useless and memory only slows progress and bends backs.
So many arms and breasts and eyes of legendary virgins hang from our necks that our lips take the form of an obsessed flower.
Crime is unavoidable if you wish to fly again. A rhythmic gymnastic murder or the juggling of a conjuror who knows how to extinguish the outbursts in the womb or change their locations at the exact moment, making them spurt into the violin of the least unprepared. Thence they will rise delicately up the scale to the very pinnacle.
Bound by knots of fire, whoever can dance will be chosen and only he will know how to tie the legendary maiden in serpentine coils. There she will remain enchanted until the end of time.
And you must know that the weight of the shriek will not suffice to break the luminous circles when a macabre season arrives and the line of specters can be seen as far as the pole.
Later comes the festival of mothers and the festival of brides standing at the top of the tower, their eyes full of intimate rituals, their eyes open so that the four points of the compass can comfortably be born, that they may then grow unrestrained and flood the world.
Ah if only you knew! The soliloquy's hands rise to the brow and become a sunshade that the eyes may see further.
All this for what? Soon there will be tears, and a death to choose from among the selection of ages.
Do you hear night's coffin being nailed shut? Do you see the naked beauty in her deathly aquarium?
The circumference of the sigh where we believe all the past will be buried can be populated with tropical vegetation and teeming wildlife.
Flowers will grow beneath the aquarium, flowers will grow under the earth in the cemetery and one day the oldest coffin will appear above the earth carried in the stem-like arms of aromas.
— Isolde, the weight of your tears cannot break the marble. But I hold here what the miracle of muscular memory once held.
Do you hear night's coffin being nailed shut?
You are the horse night mounts for its longest journeys.
But you will never reach the end. You will traverse all of mankind's history and not find what you seek.
The exercises of gravediggers make the world lighter and the spectacle bearable. We know that rain will be eternal on earth, we know that autumn will be a source of leaves, forever a cascade amongst the branches, we know that winter will extend its pole as far as our eyes do when fountains are turned into statues on plains whiter than moonlight. We know that far off, at the edge of winter, are the eyes of the woman who waits in vain and has forgotten that the fault was all hers or should at least be divided into two equal parts.
Winter will beat its heavy wings, made of who knows what unknown metal, because you knew how to beg forgiveness.
The legendary caravans whose nobility depends on their own antiquity will travel once more, their incontrovertible experience similar to the pyramids or to the armchair of the mandarin who has heard the music of so many centuries pass by, with no destiny apparent to his gaze because it was always fixed on the naked breasts of a tortured beauty, twisting, suspended above the infernal grill.
Sometimes before the desired conclusion there is a hospital open and tidy in its whiteness, like a restaurant with tables awaiting the equality of feeling.
The unexpected train departs for the satisfaction of its desires. Everywhere the gun waits breathlessly in the trembling hand.
Sometimes the ambush travels towards us, sometimes it goes off in other directions, seeming not to have seen or to have forgotten us.
Sometimes it is the robber running off with the severed hand and breasts of the legendary beauty in his bags, other times it is the doctor with the bag where he has hidden the eyes of the unforgettable beloved.
The road goes straight and stops only at the sea. There the ships are waiting, sustained on the railings of dusk. At the moment of departure the young traveler reappears with her head swathed in seven rainbows, dragging along the chorus of supplicants that feed on her sweet breath.
She wants to worry all who live with her communicant eyes, her neck swathed in melodious lace, her shoulders swathed in magnetic furs and her rainbow hat.
When she sees our eyes pierced by the light she is startled, her bones tremble beneath flesh prepared for catastrophes.
All instruments of torture are the same in their innermost raison d'être. Even doves that fly from sky to sky know this from their tenderest infancy.
The legendary beauty shackled to her breasts lives in the innocence of her volatile hair. Neither the desperate swallow has she seen in its pitcher of air, nor other birds that also wish to break through the earthly atmosphere and flee forever from our side.
She inclines her head beneath the sky's tattoos and no-one sees. One could say at least that she senses the chains in her womb.
And do you know why? Because there is never a shortage of dead women cut to pieces by the daggers of the ghost hidden behind their curtains, who in the end makes a gesture of rejection and turns his face away quite naturally.
All the brides sleep in the same bed.
They sleep crossed by the same dream, their aquatic eyes swimming amongst the same submarine algae. From the dawn of the world the leaves of virginity continue to fall beyond their own autumn, for no reason whatsoever.
The lamp that keeps vigil is like a jellyfish with injured eyes. And they do not understand.
In the open window the skeleton extends its fingers to attract birds irretrievably lost because of their migratory urges or magnetic forests. And they do not understand.
These birds die, choked by their own musical instrument, an instrument whose rhythmic sound causes our vertebrae to grow and the sap to rise to the top of the brain to feed the illuminations at the correct pressure. And they do not understand.
Outside multitudes throng together and argue furiously over the stairway of the miraculous sanctuary. On their knees they ascend the stairways of their hymns and attempt to kiss the talons of the convulsed dragon.
The captain of the lilies defends the rights of his caste and will continue dispensing perfume while he lives and the triumph is his. By contrast the naked woman is hurled down by blows from above and scourges her breasts on the steps where her lamentations are smashed.
Thus one day she will fall unexpectedly into the council chamber when the king is conversing with his favourites. She will be the key to the mystery, because truth escapes with blood from her wounds.
There is light, light that the monks, concerned only with gathering as much manna as possible and replying to the dragon's greetings, do not care to see.
Blinded by flashes of lightning from the God they had been worshipping, they remained petrified statues. This ought to have been their sad end because the sphinx does not pay repay visitors, nor does it open its eyes to see the cataclysm.
She flees. Crosses the immense river with the raven on her shoulder, the river that passes like a train and maintains its progress to infinity.
She crosses the river that runs between palm trees and storks, palm trees bigger that the eyes of the beloved, the river you do not know, the one that I point out to you, the one that, filled at night with magic lanterns, falls asleep beneath its own awning if the impassive shepherdess knows how to sing in its ear.
— Isolde, what is your voice and what should it be? Where is your voice and where should it be?
You will make a harp from the branches and you will frighten away the bees. You will be left alone amongst specters you have been able to lure with your enchantments. Your delicate fingers will pick out the best melodies from the trembling leaves and your eyes from up there will observe the world as if they were the host on display.
Do not let the moon undress you, do not let them hang you from some star like those hung for beautiful crimes, the hanged swinging above eternity.
What does it matter to you if your suitor throws himself from the tower and loses his sight on the way!
Leave him in peace. You will say that his eyes knew how to die with stoic heroism. There will be no lack of those to gather up the volcanic suitor's songs, nor of those who light a candle in his memory or place a menacing crown upon his skull, where the eyes alone still maintain a certain life and every morning rise up on tiptoe to sow excitement in your hardened breast.
You sing, oh thoughtless one!, while your serpentine arms go into death-throes like Indian temple dancers.
The waves are slow to die.
Do you hear the sea's coffin being nailed shut?
— Isolde, that other woman, also died. Guilty, he departs on his final path accompanied by his crimes.
They all died, unloading the statues at various stations.
With her shy smile that one remained in the midst of the fields. But there is one, there is one run aground on my memory's beaches who feeds on my cells.
One day we flew bound together over effervescent peaks. Together we traveled the limitless abyss and there we elevated the sorceries of sex to a rite of defenseless shipwreck.
For five months my head slept on your stomach. From our luminous encounter that knot of arteries and bones made our luck crackle. Since then I have lived witnessing its burials. I go down the stairways of my memory of you, that every day grow longer and every hour more auspicious, interwoven with stars that expended all their light before dying, that expended all their blood for her, expecting no recompense.
— Isolde, sometimes I would like to drown in an ocean of women.
Night reigns on the two banks of your gaze and I walk through the world, walk silently, walk like a dead man's solitude.
Do you hear? They are nailing my coffin shut. Do you hear how they nail my coffin? How they shut the night into my coffin, the night that will be mine until the end of time?
I am slow, slow to die.
I am not afraid of nothingness, nor would I leave it, even if I were not certain of surviving in my echo, surviving intangibly from echo to echo.
Isolde, you still have to meet me many times on many roads to eternity.
And some of you will find me raising my guilty eyes, manacled, struggling to break free.
Watch the dead man rising up from the high seas. Hear the voice of the dead man standing upright in his wave-shroud.
Watch the dead man rising atop the mountain.
Hear, hear the voices of the dead.
The great voices of grandparents, the black voice that has its roots in the deepest parts of the earth and takes years, centuries, before reaching the surface and still more years and more centuries before meeting a ready throat.
The powerful throat that might be a trumpet's. The trumpet of the ages, the trumpet of all who have suffered, of all who have trembled in bloody sweats over terror and dejection, the trumpet of all pain, the trumpet of all rancor, all vengeance. The trumpet with terrifying roots.
Hear, hear the voice of darkness. Through my throat darkness returns to light.
Enter your own dizzying cavern, descend without chloroform to your most intimate depths. Blood has its own light and bones throw off sparks for a fevered match like an electrical contact.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is a dead man inside his coffin who flattens his hair beneath his head. You have fine teeth so as to utter fine words.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is a bird opening up in full flight and it throws us eternity. Throws us eternity amongst blood and viscera like a foul promise.
The bird prophesied by the astronomers knows all secrets.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is a dead man in his coffin, turning into a skeleton. The emanations from his flesh slash the wood and make the stone doors sway.
You heard the tomb creaking and thought that at two meters' depth there was a city of quiet skeletons and bare-toothed skulls. There is a city of wax faces and wax hands. The secular dust of your bones lasts through the nights and falls like time in your internal clepsydra because your shade has the form of the night and is a little night in progress.
You are there in that interminable position where you have remained since you drank the glass of infinity that filters the emptiness and turns you into the respectable ashes of immemorial ancestors. Out of these ashes chance fashions a new star.
And I tell you, dear listeners, the unfortunate skeleton that is your guest will never see the light, since he will pass from the coffin of your flesh to that of the tomb. Thus you bear a shackled prisoner to your pitiless vagabond's dungeon. It is bad luck to shoulder this frame that waits for the perfect moment to avenge itself.
The prisoner is thirsty, with a temperature like that of a passionate sister, feels heavenly delirium within, wants to leave this constant twilight, leap cackling wildly as the volcano springs from the bowels of the earth and does not stop until it reaches the light, as the prophesied terror breaks through the breast and rises to the lips and the eyes turn into sores of silence. Your bones, drunk with solitude, feel in the blood the murmuring dew and prophesy that they are the last music, the dying whistle after the end of the world like the siren of a wrecked ship suddenly blaring at the bottom of the sea.
And, ladies and gentlemen, when bones break the ties that bind them like constellations, there will be a fabulous noise, a noise catastrophic for sensitive musical ears, more violent than the noise of remote places set free to disappear at a gallop. Such is the anxiety of an escaped prisoner, who makes roads howl and startles heartless time, time that makes universal gestures.
Ladies and gentlemen, the shipwreck's snake chews its own tail and grows infinitely larger.
Inside its coils we are sucked down by the abyss of impending decay, pus emerging from our eyes like spume deposited on the shore. Meanwhile internal landscapes sense the flight of trees; our ears, before they come apart and fall like leaves, hear the whirlwind of corn-ears sinking ever deeper. There is no hope of rest. In vain the skeleton behind the window strikes the hieratic pose of one about to sing. The planet's inner doors violently cover their ears, like the nurse hearing shrieks from the terrible adventure at the last frontier. Nothing is gained by thinking that the voluptuous zone of wonder stretches beyond the abstract wall.
No, you will not meet the old man sitting on the rocks of the eternal snowfall, smiling softly, surrounded by meditative heroes like palm trees.
A last few words, my friends, before I finish: our struggles and our arguments are in vain, our phosphorescing swords and words also. Only the coffin is correct. Victory belongs to the cemetery. Only in the mysterious sown field does triumph flourish.
Such was the speech that, for no reason, you have called macabre, the beautiful speech of the presenter of nothingness.
Go. Follow your paths as I follow my own.
I am too slow at dying.
Nevertheless, Isolde, prepare your tears. Distant, moved like a piano of regrets, prepare your best tears.
I am slow to die. The statue passes over the sea and the wind closes my eyelids to mark the penetrating glory.
A mountain fills half my chest.
I have too big a heart for you. You have measured your mountains, you know that the Gaurizankar is 8,800 meters high, but you do not know, nor will you ever know, the height of my heart. Nevertheless, tomorrow in the depths of the earth I will hear your footsteps.
Who will disturb the peace? Silence this insolent noise.
Those are my forebears dancing on my tomb. They are my grandparents sounding the alarm to wake me.
The leader of the tribe finds himself alone, and weeps.
Silence your useless sobs.
Behold us here at last sleeping in the earth's vulva.
Since then the cataclysm abides in cities. Walls and roofs fall, revealing entire peoples naked in various poses, most of them begging for mercy.
Arms and legs protrude from the rubble.
Then the sky caved in. How many birds were crushed, and died.
For days afterwards people walked past, looking at the ruins. Not even a smile left standing. Ghosts walked past with covered eyes, howling, and a man gone mad leaped from head to head, dagger in hand, looking for a god to blame.
Sweat, slaves, raise up the cities of the future. Meanwhile I watch the progress of forests. I contemplate the slow plea of the pirate of sunset.
Measure the earth to learn how many miracles it holds. Adorn volcanoes, deck rivers out with flags, tunnel through mountains. Tell me tomorrow how many ghosts might yet be buried, with their dreams.
Awake, Isolde, before the final turn, your bed riddled with bullets because no-one believed in your truth.
I tell you, it will be your grace and none other rising amidst the corpses, your grace caught in the wheels of revolt, while fire consumes it all and begins to lick the horizon, to clamber through the sky.
Towers bend beneath the unceasing rain. Burning roofs fly by.
All things must pass.
From end to end the world is in silence. But there is something that still searches for us everywhere.
Plough the earth and sow wonders. Throw ladders across all abysses.
Tell me, what use is hope? Sailing ships go off to their interminable Golgotha, for fear of the storm. Everything is left behind.
The canoe that should perish crests the final wave.
The sky is slow to die.
Do you hear the sky's coffin being nailed shut?
back to issue three
Translation copyright © Tony Frazer, 2006
Original text copyright © Fundacion Vicente Huidobro
This translation is published by kind permission of the Fundación Vicente Huidobro
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