“… I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body…”
From 100 Love Sonnets. Translated by Stephen Tapscott (UT Press, 1986).
Mondays are meshed with Tuesdays
and the week with the whole year.
Time cannot be cut
with your weary scissors,
and all the names of the day
are washed out by the waters of night.
No one can claim the name of Pedro,
nobody is Rosa or Maria,
all of us are dust or sand,
all of us are rain under rain.
They have spoken to me of Venezuelas,
of Chiles and of Paraguays;
I have no idea what they are saying.
I know only the skin of the earth
and I know it is without a name.
When I lived amongst the roots
they pleased me more than flowers did,
and when I spoke to a stone
it rang like a bell.
It is so long, the spring
which goes on all winter.
Time lost its shoes.
A year lasts four centuries.
When I sleep every night,
what am I called or not called?
And when I wake, who am I
if I was not I while I slept?
This means to say that scarcely
have we landed into life
than we come as if new-born;
let us not fill our mouths
with so many faltering names,
with so many sad formalities,
with so many pompous letters,
with so much of yours and mine,
with so much signing of papers.
I have a mind to confuse things,
unite them, bring them to birth,
mix them up, undress them,
until the light of the world
has the oneness of the ocean,
a generous, vast wholeness,
a crackling, living fragrance.
The taste of your mouth and the color of your skin,
skin, mouth, fruit of these swift days,
tell me, were they always beside you
through years and journeys and moons and suns
and earth and weeping and rain and joy
or is it only now that
they come from your roots,
only as water brings to the dry earth
burgeonings that it did not know,
or as to the lips of the forgotten jug
the taste of the earth rises in the water?
I don’t know, don’t tell me, you don’t know.
Nobody knows these things.
But bringing all my senses close
to the light of your skin, you disappear,
you melt like the acid
aroma of a fruit
and the heat of a road,
and the smell of corn being stripped,
the honeysuckle of the pure afternoon,
the names of the dusty earth,
the infinite perfume of our country:
magnolia and thicket, blood and flour,
the gallop of horses,
the village’s dusty moon,
ah from your skin everything comes back to my mouth,
comes back to my heart, comes back to my body,
and with you I become again
the earth that you are:
you are deep spring in me:
in you I know again how I am born.
Years of yours that I should have felt
growing near me like clusters
until you had seen how the sun and the earth
had destined you for my hands of stone,
until grape by grape you had made
the wine sing in my veins.
The wind or the horse
swerving were able
to make me pass through your childhood,
you have seen the same sky each day,
the same dark winter mud,
the endless branching of the plum trees
and their dark-purple sweetness.
Only a few miles of night,
the drenched distances
of the country dawn,
a handful of earth separated us, the transparent
that we did not cross, so that life,
afterward, could put all
the seas and the earth
between us, and we could come together
in spite of space,
step by step seeking each other,
from one ocean to another,
until I saw that the sky was aflame
and your hair was flying in the light
and you came to my kisses with the fire
of an unchained meteor
and as you melted in my blood, the sweetness
of the wild plum
of our childhood I received in my mouth,
and I clutched you to my breast as
if I were regaining earth and life.
My wild girl, we have had
to regain time
and march backward, in the distance
of our lives, kiss after kiss,
gathering from one place what we gave
without joy, discovering in another
the secret road
that gradually brought your feet close to mine,
and so beneath my mouth
you see again the unfulfilled plant
of your life putting out its roots
toward my heart that was waiting for you.
And one by one the nights
between our separated cities
are joined to the night that unites us.
The light of each day,
its flame or its repose,
they deliver to us, taking them from time,
and so our treasure
is disinterred in shadow or light,
and so our kisses kiss life:
all love is enclosed in our love:
all thirst ends in our embrace.
Here we are at last face to face,
we have met,
we have lost nothing.
We have felt each other lip to lip,
we have changed a thousand times
between us death and life,
all that we were bringing
like dead medals
we threw to the bottom of the sea,
all that we learned
was of no use to us:
we begin again,
we end again
death and life.
And here we survive,
pure, with the purity that we created,
broader than the earth that could not lead us astray,
eternal as the fire that will burn
as long as life endures.