If he asks about me, trace on the ground
a cross of silence and ashes
over the impure name that afflicts me.
If he asks about me, say that I have died
and that I am decaying beneath the ants.
Tell him that I am a branch of an orange tree,
the simple weather vane of a tower.
Do not tell him that I still cry
embracing the hollow of his absence
where his blind statue stood imprinted,
always waiting for the body to return.
The flesh is a laurel that sings and suffers
and I waited in vain beneath his shadow.
It is already late. I am a deaf minnow.
If he asks about me, give him these eyes,
these grey words, these fingers:
and the drop of blood in the handkerchief.
Tell him that I have lost myself, that I have become
a dark partridge, a false ring
or a bank of forgotten camel grass;
tell him that I fade from saffron to iris.
Tell him that I wanted to prolong his lips,
live within the palace of his forehead.
Navigate one night in his hair.
Learn the color of his pupils
and smother myself slowly in his chest,
submerged nightly, listless
in the murmur of veins and mute.
Now I cannot even see although I implore
the body that I dressed with love,
I remain steadfast, broken, detached.
And if you all doubt me, believe the wind,
look north, ask the sky.
And they will tell you if I still wait or if I am becoming night.
Image: Subject unknown, Europe, 1910s, via dcwooten/flickr
Text: Emilio Ballagas (1908-1954), Nocturne and Elegy, excerpt
Translated by Arango-Ramos and William Keeth