Before I loved you, love, nothing was my own:
I wavered through the streets, among
nothing mattered or had a name:
the world was made of air, which waited.
I knew rooms full of ashes,
tunnels where the moon lived,
rough warehouses that growled ‘get lost’,
questions that insisted in the sand.
Everything was empty, dead, mute,
fallen abandoned, and decayed:
inconceivably alien, it all
belonged to someone else – to no one:
till your beauty and your poverty
filled the autumn plentiful with gifts.
I hunt for a sign of you in all the others,
In the rapid undulant river of women,
Braids, shyly sinking eyes,
Light step that slices, sailing through the foam.
Suddenly I think I can make out your nails,
Oblong, quick, nieces of a cherry:
Then it's your hair that passes by, and I think
I see your image, a bonfire, burning in the water.
I searched, but no one else had your rhythms,
Your light, the shady day you brought from the forest;
Nobody had your tiny ears.
You are whole, exact, and everything you are is one,
And so I go along, with you I float along, loving
A wide Mississippi toward a feminine sea.
I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.
I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.
I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,
and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.
Beloved of the rivers,beset
By azure water and transparent drops,
Like a tree of veins your spectre
Of dark goddess biting apples:
And then awakening naked
To be tattoed by the rivers,
And in the wet heights your head
Filled the world with new dew.
Water rose to your waist,
You are made of wellsprings
And lakes shone on your forehead.
From your sources of density you drew
Water like vital tears
And hauled the riverbeds to the sand
Across the planetary night,
Crossing rough, dilated stone,
Breaking down on the way
All the salt of geology,
Cutting through forests of compact walls
Dislodging the muscles of quartz.
Drunk as drunk on turpentine
From your open kisses,
Your wet body wedged
Between my wet body and the strake
Of our boat that is made of flowers,
Feasted, we guide it - our fingers
Like tallows adorned with yellow metal -
Over the sky's hot rim,
The day's last breath in our sails.
Pinned by the sun between solstice
And equinox, drowsy and tangled together
We drifted for months and woke
With the bitter taste of land on our lips,
Eyelids all sticky, and we longed for lime
And the sound of a rope
Lowering a bucket down its well. Then,
We came by night to the Fortunate Isles,
And lay like fish
Under the net of our kisses.
I am not jealous
of what came before me.
Come with a man
on your shoulders,
come with a hundred men in your hair,
come with a thousand men between your breasts and your feet,
come like a river
full of drowned men
which flows down to the wild sea,
to the eternal surf, to Time
Bring them all
to where I am waiting for you;
we shall always be alone,
we shall always be you and I
alone on earth,
to start our life
I have scarcely left you
When you go in me, crystalline,
Or uneasy, wounded by me
Or overwhelmed with love, as
when your eyes
Close upon the gift of life
That without cease I give you.
We have found each other
Thirsty and we have
Drunk up all the water and the
We found each other
And we bit each other
As fire bites,
Leaving wounds in us.
But wait for me,
Keep for me your sweetness.
I will give you too
Arise to birth with me, my brother.
Give me your hand out of the depths
sown by your sorrows.
You will not return from these stone fastnesses.
You will not emerge from subterranean time.
Your rasping voice will not come back,
nor your pierced eyes rise from their sockets.
Look at me from the depths of the earth,
tiller of fields, weaver, reticent shepherd,
groom of totemic guanacos,
mason high on your treacherous scaffolding,
iceman of Andean tears,
jeweler with crushed fingers,
farmer anxious among his seedlings,
potter wasted among his clays--
bring to the cup of this new life
your ancient buried sorrows.
Show me your blood and your furrow;
say to me: here I was scourged
because a gem was dull or because the earth
failed to give up in time its tithe of corn or stone.
Point out to me the rock on which you stumbled,
the wood they used to crucify your body.
Strike the old flints
to kindle ancient lamps, light up the whips
glued to your wounds throughout the centuries
and light the axes gleaming with your blood.
I come to speak for your dead mouths.
Throughout the earth
let dead lips congregate,
out of the depths spin this long night to me
as if I rode at anchor here with you.
And tell me everything, tell chain by chain,
and link by link, and step by step;
sharpen the knives you kept hidden away,
thrust them into my breast, into my hands,
like a torrent of sunbursts,
an Amazon of buried jaguars,
and leave me cry: hours, days and years,
blind ages, stellar centuries.
And give me silence, give me water, hope.
Give me the struggle, the iron, the volcanoes.
Let bodies cling like magnets to my body.
Come quickly to my veins and to my mouth.
Speak through my speech, and through my blood.