Before the Lamps Go Out
translated by Dana Delibovi
Easy Ride Through the Flat City
The bicycle, the streets, the end of the rain--
I’m dressed in white, on an easy pedal through the flat city.
Your hands don’t run through my hair tonight.
No nipple engorges at the touch of your fingertips,
no swollen belly trembles.
No defects, no perfections,
inhaled and exhaled, thoughtlessly.
A red taxi brakes,
I cross the avenue,
my tires roll, splashing water from the asphalt.
This picture. Nothing more.
On the sidewalk stand two young men
and one young woman,
haloed by the the light of an open coffee bar;
uncertain music plays.
Far away, another car revs up
in the biggest city in the world.
I left your house having hurt you. That’s how things end,
with an extra word, altogether too stupid.
Granted, I uttered those sounds, but they were nothing
created out of nothing—and now nothing
disturbs this soft pedaling, through the wet night that muffles
the clank of the chain,
the heartbeat in my temples,
the guilty urge to feel something.
My right leg goes around,
then my left.
I’m not going far; I’m going in circles.
The door, the floorboards, the bed—truth is,
tonight I’m riding away from all of them.
Where the Cobblestones End, the Last Stars of the Night
I wouldn’t have slept with you.
I wouldn’t have invented the game of love
that drains the air of dawn
Step by step, I’m going to let go of this night
that’s dyed the color
of your hurried, wakeful nurses.
Why has the absence of your hand become an insult,
when in the morning our bitter saliva
brims with memories?
The stars fade into a still-nocturnal blue,
but there is no peace anymore--
a restless urge to act devours me.
I need to quiet my mind
to silence this fixed idea of not knowing how to love you.
I smell the trail of a cigarette,
the twist of passion, the comfort of tobacco.
Desire doesn’t inflame me,
only this day’s longing to smoke, looking out on the harbor.
A woman in the corner waits for someone.
In my insomnia, I watch her, while I watch myself
sitting with my notebook in my hands.
Never again will you know what a morning is,
and while you drift away, I grieve how you will miss
the sound of sidewalk sweeping
of a cough
of a starting car,
of “good morning” in the sharp voice of a woman.
You will not breathe sighs
as lights dim in the brightening sky and flocks of birds awake.
I cannot wait by your side for the movement of the sheet,
for the ill-tempered kiss.
I need to walk. I need red fires atop the dunes.
Almost at the house:
I don’t drag my feet as I imagined I would.
I’m sleepy. A neighbor looks my way.
Note.: These poems were selected from Se prepara a la lluvia la tarde. Ciudad de Mexico, Ediciones Corcon, 2011.