I Hardly Remember
I hardly remember your voice, but the pain of you floats in some remote current of my blood. I carry you in my depths, trapped in the sludge like one of those corpses the sea refuses to give up. It was a spoiled remnant of the South. A beach without fishing boats, where the sun was for sale. A stretch of shore, now a jungle of lights and languages that grudgingly offered, defeated, its obligation of sand. The night of that day punished us at its whim. I held you so close I could barely see you. Autumn was brandishing guffaws and dancebands and the sea tore at the pleasure-boats in a frenzy. Your hand balanced, with its steady heat, the wavering tepidness of alcohol. The gardens came at me from far away through your skirt. My high-tide mark rose to the level of your breasts. Carpets, like tentacles, wriggling down to the strand, attracted passers-by to the mouth of the clamor. With lights and curtains, above the tedium the bedrooms murmured in the grand hotels. There are dark moments when our ballast gives out from so much banging around. Moments, or centuries, when the flesh revels in its nakedness and reels to its own destruction, sucking the life from itself. I groped around me, trying on your embrace, but love was not where your embrace was. I felt your hands stroking that physical ache but a great nothing went before your hands. I searched, down the length of your soulless surrender, for a calm bay where I could cast a net, yearning to hear a trace of the vendor's voice still wet with the glimmer of the flapping minnows. It was a spoiled remnant of the South. The aroma of muscatel was tainted with whiskey breath. I carry that dead embrace inside me yet like a foreign object the flesh tries to reject.
From I'm Speaking, poems by Rafael Guillén, translations by Sandy McKinney. Copyright © 2001 by Northwestern University Press. Used with permission. All rights reserved.