Objects & apparitions
by Octavio Paz
For Joseph Cornell
Hexahedrons of wood and glass,
scarcely bigger than a shoebox,
with room in them for night and all its lights.
Monuments to every moment,
refuse of every moment, used:
cages for infinity.
Marbles, buttons, thimbles, dice,
pins, stamps, and glass beads:
tales of the time.
Memory weaves, unweaves the echoes:
in the four corners of the box
shadowless ladies play at hide-and-seek.
Fire buried in the mirror,
water sleeping in the agate:
solos of Jenny Collone and Jenny Lind.
"One has to commit a painting," said Degas,
"the way one commits a crime." But you constructed
boxes where things hurrry away from their names.
Slot machines of visions,
condensation flask for conversations,
hotel of crickets and constellations.
Minimal, incoherent fragments:
the opposite of History, creator of ruins,
out of your ruins you have made creations.
Theater of the spirits:
objects putting the laws
of identity through hoops.
"Grand Hotel de la Couronne": in a vial,
the three of clubs and, very surprised,
Thumbelina in gardens of reflection.
A comb is a harp strummed by the glance
of a little girl
The reflector of the inner eye
scatters the spectacle:
God all alone above an extinct world.
The apparitions are manifest,
their bodies weigh less than light,
lasting as long as this phrase lasts.
Joseph Cornell: inside your boxes
my words become visible for a moment.