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The Raven

The morning was as devastating as the annunciation

of madness and weighed down on the veins

of the leaves as if a cold sharp hand

would cleave the lovers’ double

life. There were times when my confused

memory was wandering from sigh to sigh

from mourning to mourning

and life struggled to emerge from sleep like

a black mote of death and everything was

carried forward by a divine knowledge

that was slipping away and vanishing from my own hands.

Years filled with guilt and floods, years that came

to know that I had begun

my rite and my fears and this

horrible bearer of evil

that is destiny was climbing on my back

like a sweaty little shameful horse

that might want to cheat and carry

off to ruin the Lord of everything…

These somber and modest corpses

that fill the air with their bobbypins

and their cries, dragging insane women by the hair

and shrewd toilers in the vineyard,

this colorless magic that is the universe

more somber alas than every battle, I who turn into the reciter

of my own defeat and the background of a battle

of dreams. The length of this lost illusion in which

the sins of him and the sins of her came to fall above

my own sin showering it with insults

and miseries, this sudden break with the universe

where I who was calm turn as cold as the dawn

and stubbornly sleepily resistant as death in a double homicide

that lies between skin and skin

between presence and presence. The old formation

of this sign of life that becomes

the excrement of every greatness. My natural

wonder is all that is solid flesh

flesh that is equal in everything to the clods

of this divine insult.

Translation: Susan Stewart