Two Chapters from Springtime with A Broken Corner

Chapter 39: The Wounded and the Bruised (Bitch Life)

“And what did you feel when he read the letter to you, when he told you about the photograph?”

“Confused. Really, I think I felt confused.”

“Confused and guilty?”

“No. Not guilty.”

“Then why do you have that somber look on your face?”

“It must be because this mess isn’t exactly a party.”

“When you say mess, are you referring to our situation?”

“Yes, what else can I be referring to?”

“I don’t see it as a mess.”

“Oh, no? But it is.”

“Are you repentant?”

“No. But it isn’t a party.”

“You’ve already said that. But their situation isn’t a party either.”

“Claudia and Angel’s situation? No, it’s not a party for them either. But at least it’s transparent. A transparent pain. A transparent love.”

“Unlike ours, which is unclear.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“But you imply it. Everything you don’t say, you’re saying nevertheless. Do you think that perhaps I don’t tell myself the same things?”

“You know very well that for me the only unclear issue is that we haven’t told Santiago. The rest, no. I really love you, Graciela, and that isn’t unclear.”

“Why go over that again? I spoke to Rafael about it and he convinced me. And I continue to believe he was right. It was too much for Santiago. To find out like that, and while over there. Confined.”

“Well, now he’s coming.”

“Yes, and I’m happy he’s coming.”

“Does being happy about that mean you’re repentant about the other issue?”

“No, Rolando, I’m not repentant either. Happy means happy, nothing more. Happy, because he’s going to be free and he well deserves it. And also because I’ll be able to tell him.”

“Will you?”

“Yes, Rolando, I will. I’m much stronger than you think. And besides, I’m certain. I now know definitively that the other issue would go badly. And I respect Santiago too much to continue lying to him.”

“Life is a bitch, isn’t it? For him to come out after so many years and have this waiting for him. I mean to say: that we would be waiting for him with this good news.”

“I don’t know. After all, like Rafael says, it’s better that he finds out here, with a different perspective.”

“The others will find out, too. His friends. Perchance, did your esteemed Rafael talk to you about that?”

“No. But I know about it all too well.”

“I don’t think they’re going to be on our side.”

“Probably not. Everyone loves Santiago. It will be difficult.”

“How are you going to tell him?”

“I don’t know, Rolando, I don’t know.”

“Would you prefer that we both speak to him?”

“Look, I don’t know how I’m going to tell him. I’ll improvise. But on the other hand, I do know that I want to tell him myself. I do have that right, don’t I?”

“You have every right. And little Beatriz?”

“She seems distant. That, too annoys me.”

“Does she know her father is arriving in fifteen days?”

“She’s known since Sunday. In spite of Santiago’s advice, I decided to tell her. Do you know why I did it? I did it because I thought that in some strange way she had found out or sensed it, and that perhaps her distant attitude was due to the fact that I had not given her the news. But since I told her, she’s remained the same.”

“That child is very clever. Surely she suspects us.”

“That’s what I think.”

“After all, it’s an inevitable reaction.”

“Could be, but I’m concerned.”

“And now why are you crying?”

“Because you’re right.”

“Yes, of course, but about what?”

“About what you said today: Life is a bitch.”

Chapter 45: Outside the City (Arrivals Arrivées)

strange i feel strange stepping on this land # at least it’s raining # everything levels off with the rain and the umbrella becomes the common denominator of humanity # at least of the sheltered humanity

i feel strange but it will soon pass # nobody dies from estrangement although one can die from pining # what is happening is that too many things have come together at once # the news # my family’s farewell there # the fucked-up procedures # the boastful grimace of the penultimate official # holly oak # my lonesome departure # the trip the long trip with dreams and deep thoughts and plans # well and the meals # how can i not feel confused after five years of that vile stew

the official who looks at that document at length # the truth is that four minutes can be an eternity # could you please remove the beret and a careful comparison to the photo # always serious but very confident so one more # yes one more # i too am very confident # only then a smile and the austere face that changes into the face of a wonderful little indian # good luck friend # he told me good luck friend

and now to wait for the suitcases # my suitcase my poor suitcase will it arrive or not # this is going to delay # and those who wait # the pile of heads behind the panes of  glass # if i could see them find them

but yes they’re there # it’s them of course it’s them # orientals the fatherland or the grave # workers of the world united # eureka # the celestial no nor no # fiat lux # nosce te ipsum # fatherland or death we shall overcome # up with those who struggle # damn what happiness

graciela and father and that terrific little thing who should be my indian child # pretty graciela # to think that one is my wife # little beatriz what a feast awaits us # and that other one who raises his arms # but yes it’s the duke # but yes it’s the duke of endives in person

(Palma De Mallorca, October 1980 to October 1981)

Bios

Mario Benedetti

Mario Benedetti (1920-2009), born in Pasa de los Toros, Tacuarembó Province, Uruguay, was one of Latin America’s most renowned and beloved writers. A poet, novelist, essayist, critic, journalist, playwright, songwriter, and screenwriter, Benedetti enjoyed international acclaim. He wrote for magazines, newspapers, and various periodicals and journals in Uruguay, Argentina, and Mexico. Selections of his work are represented in anthologies published in Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, England, Italy, United States, Israel, Venezuela, and Spain. Benedetti received numerous prizes for literature, including the Premio Ministerio de Instrucción Pública, Premio Municipal de Literatura, Simposio del Comisión del Teatro Municipal, Concurso Seix Barral in Barcelona, Concurso Periodístico de SAS, Premio Cámara del Libro, Medalla Félix Varela al Merito, Mejor Obra Extranjera in Mexico, Premio Llama de Oro Amnistía Internacional, Premio Jristo Botev de Bulgaria, Medalla Haydeé Santamaría, VIII Premio Reina Sofía de Poesía Iberoamericana, Premio Iberoamericano José Martí, Premio Etnosur, the XIX Premio Internacional Menéndez Pelayo, La Orden de Francisco de Miranda, and several Doctor Honoris Causa. In addition to a full-length study of twentieth-century Uruguayan literature, Benedetti authored more than ninety books, and his work has been translated into twenty-six languages, including Braille. He resided in Montevideo after 1985 and wrote full time until his death in 2009.

Harry Morales

Harry Morales is a Spanish literary translator whose translations include the work of the late Mario Benedetti, Rodrigo Rey Rosa, Eugenio María de Hostos, Emir Rodríguez Monegal, Juan Rulfo, Alberto Ruy-Sánchez, Ilan Stavans, and Francisco Proaño Arandi, among many other distinguished Latin American writers. His work has been widely published in numerous anthologies, and has appeared in various journals, including Pequod, Quarterly West, Chicago Review, TriQuarterly, The Literary Review, AGNI, The Kenyon Review, Mid-American Review, ACM: Another Chicago Magazine, Mānoa, BOMB, WORLDVIEW, Puerto del Sol, The Iowa Review, Michigan Review, World Literature Today, and Hayden's Ferry Review, among others. His English translation of two verse collections by Mario Benedetti, Sólo Mientras Tanto: Poemas: 1948-1950 (Only in the Meantime: Poems: 1948-1950) and Poemas de la Oficina: 1953-1956 (Office Poems: 1953-1956), and a volume of stories, El Resto Es Selva y Otros Cuentos (The Rest is Jungle and Other Stories), are published by Host Publications.

Primavera Con Una Esquina Rota. Copyright (c) Editorial Nueva Imagen, S.A., 1982. English translation copyright (c) Harry Morales, 2012.