rejectomorph (flying_blind) wrote,


Night becomes ice as the clouds vanish, and cold drops of clinging water catch the exposed moon's light, making lawns and bushes and the houses' eaves glitter as though a galaxy of miniature stars had fallen. The driveway, still wet, is utterly black, absorbing the light as it has absorbed the rainwater. The metal lamppost is rimed, as is the top of the mailbox. My illuminated breath's fog hovers amid clarity. I hear a flock of waterfowl flying, but not even the full moon can reveal them to my eye. I listen to their calls echo and fade, swallowed by that vastness the dark trees only partly conceal. The orchard is flat, and even the tall pines appear to shrink from that immense emptiness in which the moon rides all but alone.

Sunday Verse

The Balcony

by Octavio Paz

in the middle of the night
not adrift with centuries
not spreading out
like a fixed idea
to the center of incandescence
     Two tall syllables
surrounded by insomnia and sand
I say them in a low voice

                          Nothing moves
the hour grows
              stretching out
It's summer
tide that spills over
I hear the low sky vibrate
over lethargic plains
Great masses of obscene conclaves
clouds full of insects
       the uncertain dwarf bulks
(Tomorrow they will have names
they will stand and be houses
tomorrow they will be trees)

Nothing moves
The hour is larger
                  and I more alone
      to the center of the whirlwind
If I stretch out my hand
the air is a spongy body
a promiscuous faceless being
Leaning over the balcony
                        I see

(Never lean on a balcony 
when you are alone,
the Chinese poet writes)

It is not height nor the night and its moon
it is not the infinities that can be seen
but memory and its vertigoes
This that I see
               this spinning
is the tricks and traps
behind it there is nothing
it is the whirlwind of days
(Throne of bone
               throne of noon
that island
           On its lion-colored cliffs
I saw for an instant true life
It had the face of death
the same face
in the same sparkling sea)

What you have lived you will unlive today
you are not there
                 but here
I am here
         at my beginning
I don't deny myself
                   I sustain myself
Leaning over the balcony
                        I see
huge clouds and a piece of the moon
all that is visible here
people houses
             the real present
conquered by the hour
                     and all the invisible
    my horizon
If this beginning is a beginning
it does not begin with me
                         I begin with it
I perpetuate myself in it

                         Leaning over the balcony
I see
     this distance that is so close
I don't know what to call it
tough I touch it with my thoughts
The night founders
the city like a mountain fallen
white lights blues yellows
sudden headlights walls of disgrace
and the terrible clusters
the clumps of people and animals on the ground
and the bramble of their tangled dreams

Old Delhi fetid Delhi
alleys and little squares and mosques
like a stabbed body
like a buried garden
For centuries it has rained dust
your veil is a dust-cloud
your pillow a broken brick
On a fig leaf
you eat the leftovers of your gods
your temples are bordellos of the incurable
you are covered with ants
abandoned lot
             ruined mausoleum
you are naked
             like a violated corpse
they stole your jewels and your burial clothes
You were covered with poems
your whole body was writing
        recover the words
you are beautiful
                 you know how to sing and talk and dance

     two towers
planted on the plains
                     two tall syllables
I say them in a low voice
leaning over the balcony
not to the ground
                 to its vertigo
to the center of incandescence
I was there
           I don't know where
I am here
         I don't know is where
Not the earth
holds me in its empty hands
Night and moon
              movements of clouds
tremor of trees
               stupor of space
infinity and violence in the air
furious dust that wakes
The lights are on at the airport
murmur of song from the Red Fort
         a pilgrim's steps are vagabond music 
on this fragile bridge of words
The hour lifts me
time hungers for incarnation
Beyond myself
I wait for my arrival

-translated by Eliot Weinberger

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