Notes toward a biography of Helene Zarour
She used to believe in her hands and in her mouth, in the events
they transfer to the mirror and the crusader
before any smashing of the skull against a wall.
She believed only in the skull inside the mirror; the wall—
the inaugural uncertainty, the end, the soot—
a single crack renders the aphonous Janusface reflections
of obreptitious types unintelligible.
Glassy, they were no more than an extension of the noise.
She was born in the century whose nature moves from blind noise
to noise. (Oh who bears suffering. Oh what identifies you.)
In this century she died. Less would suffice for Callimachus.
Died is an error. Because evenings still return to the evenings.
And that subtle defect in my voicing
differentiates the omens. She has not gone out to sea.
Now we hear a song in which the sea
is not sea, but a southamerican oblivion.
Now she is twenty. She believes in the Great Bear
twinkling above; in a pair of jeans, Saturdays and Diego;
in Epictetus remarking Sartre.
She believes in tea and furtive cigarettes–
between them she saw Milton–; doesn’t know that she doesn’t know
about the doubled fireflies among Caribbean rocks,
or the triple exaltation of the western waters
at an illusory sundown. She believes she believes she heard
she would have been a queen. (Democracy, scathing,
bestows a vice on every one.) Coronated–
so goes the fine frill of the legend–,
she believed in the eudaimonic powers of the word scimitar.
Uncoronated, in Spanish dictionaries she forgot
the simultaneous names of God, and the high plain
and the day on which a death and a Zarour coincide in
impenetrable frost that murders the whole expanse.
At her back: an ambush cuts through the batiste today. A knife.
For this queen, the hooves of sweatsoaked horses.
The rest is lost in the police records.
I don’t go there: I’m inclined to follow fear, not sun. (Neither
sunbeam nor its underside, my utterance can only undo Schelling’s mind.)
Today there’s a straw mattress now a cellar with screams.
Spurious cartographies fade
out of the sky seen from the roof the nightmares and the horror
that awakening does not dispel, instead provokes.
A sticky bolt would squeal. Yes. Romo
who arrives for interrogations. Yes. But where are
her hands and mouth, the events
that judgment needs when justice resumes.
Where did that bird end up. Toward which
unnamed roses, luckless, without a cause,
did the concept rose crawl. No one can answer anymore.
No one resumes her talent. And even the nonmilitary count–
civilian figures attending enlightenment today, no further ceremony–
falls out of its public animal state, snakes along lazily.
It grinds the faithful: against the wall, against acts of reason, against noise–
I don’t know: I’m already forgetting those times when evenings
were interlaced with speech, not by an ending—,
off to exile in France, off to the washing of dishes, to the sea with no jewels—
an evil that would weigh on Valéry. O and me for I read diamant—.
Mark, instant, the nothing-else in which tomorrow drowned.
You can hear her: she’ll be chanting a song that wasn’t even
like her. You see her: for what greater punishment.
Very close by; her hands flaccid; water up to her chest.
And she chants. The water. The water. She chants. The rumbling—
shreds of world–, a faint claim on affection.
There is another Elena, another was, another there, and another beginning.
On a diagonal plane our illustrious heads look at each other.
With the gendarme we exit the cell.
Walk along. All as one. Walk. Walk. Walk.
Your hominid state walks too. There is no dispensation,
meddler, you, you pig brushing the soot off doctrines.
A little bit of antipoetry
Who was this Bob Marley
to be so attractive to Violeta,
the daughter of Lucrecia Brito
who according to Juan looks like Michelle Pfeiffer–
attractive, even though Bob Marley is black and dead,
and here, like anywhere,
it may be more convenient to be white and alive.
Another little bit of antipoetry, in two parts
Because I come from other homes–
and am ugly as a command–
the Chileans say all kinds of things to me.
Chilean women don’t offer their mouths in greeting;
of The Beauties I’ve had not a mouthful–
of course I’m not Gonzalo Rojas;
but they could very well give me a little something–
even if I’m uglier than a command.
Or what happened to all that business about:
“And you’ll see how much in Chile they love the friend
who comes from a distant land.”
Friend from distant land does not specify goodlooking or ugly.
And I come, I swear, from very far away.
Of all my many options
I want to take a taxi:
that one, please, that one;
but the driver is dozing, is fat, wakes up,
looks at me with eyes out of a different world, stretches
and doesn’t even respond.
What’s going on in this democracy–
I’m prompted to say–
if one can’t choose even a decent taxi:
that one, please, that one.
Drowned man’s plank
The craft that goes down always
and all survivors are orphans
who believe in omens–
the desirous hold onto superstitions
that can get them all the way to the coast,
to whatever coast:
can get them to caulk another ship and set out
to sea all over again, in search
of another port, and so: from port to port:
until the craft they presently
maintain without a frown
goes back down.
Survivors are, furthermore, stubborn.
They’ll rebuild all over again–
one craft is the same as another–
because they have patience and pride,
and they know they were always survivors,
were always orphans–
they protect their omens very well,
and their superstitions–:
and the desire doesn’t kill them,
or the snow or the wind or the rain:
and they themselves compose their songs,
and sing them,
even while the craft is actually sinking–
and still they will sing
when it’s sunk,
that is to say, in the deep.
One can be like that, and can be a creature
always of the deep: not a pistol, not a text.
In every wreck there is a vestige of something.
But I am no survivor.
Crossing a countryside
The thing that goes under can be
the bucket, dropping to the bottom
of the well:
and it will come back with fresh water–
which we can drink
with happiness or sadness–
sometimes they are, the one and the other, the same—:
one can die of laughter or wailing:
so say the ones who aren’t frenzied—
but we will drink water from the bucket
that dropped to the bottom of the well;
then we’ll think about death,
now, let’s drink.