The lovers say nothing.
Love is the finest of the silences,
the one that trembles most and is hardest to bear.
The lovers are looking for something.
The lovers are the ones who abandon,
the ones who change, who forget.
Their hearts tell them that they will never find.
They don’t find, they’re looking.
The lovers wander around like crazy people
because they’re alone, alone,
surrendering, giving themselves to each moment,
crying because they don’t save love.
They worry about love. The lovers
live for the day, it’s the best they can do, it’s all they know.
They’re going away all the time,
all the time, going somewhere else.
not for anything in particular, they just hope.
They know that whatever it is they will not find it.
Love is the perpetual deferment,
always the next step, the other, the other.
The lovers are the insatiable ones,
the ones who must always, fortunately, be alone.
The lovers are the serpent in the story.
They have snakes instead of arms.
The veins in their necks swell
like snakes too, suffocating them.
The lovers can’t sleep
because if they do the worms eat them.
They open their eyes in the dark
and terror falls into them.
They find scorpions under the sheet
and their bed floats as though on a lake.
The lovers are crazy, only crazy
with no God and no devil.
The lovers come out of their caves
They laugh at those who know all about it,
who love forever, truly,
at those who believe in love as an inexhaustible lamp.
The lovers play at picking up water,
tattooing smoke, at staying where they are.
They play the long sad game of love.
None of them will give up.
The lovers are ashamed to reach any agreement.
Empty, but empty from one rib to another,
death ferments them behind the eyes,
and on they go, they weep toward morning
in the trains, and the roosters wake into sorrow.
Sometimes a scent of newborn earth reaches them,
of women sleeping with a hand on their sex, contented,
of gentle streams, and kitchens.
The lovers start singing between their lips
a song that is not learned.
And they go on crying, crying
for beautiful life.
Translated by W.S. Merwin