all forgotten

gracias a carlos, médecin(s) sans frontières in angola, irgendwann mal chile, für dieses hier:


I swear I no longer remember her name,

but I know what to call her: Maria

not just to sound like a poet; to bring

back that town, with its one dusty plaza.

Those were the days, all right. I was a gawky kid;

she was a pale, somber girl,

One day, when I came home from school, I found out

she had died, through no fault of her own,

a story that hit me so hard when I heard it

a tear trickled out of my eye.

A tear !…out of me, and I’ve always been

known as a fairly unflappable guy.

If I’m going to accept the story as true

the way that they told it that day;

then there’s something I’ll have to believe:

she died with my name in her eyes,

which is baffling, because we were never that close;

she was only a sociable friend.

We were friends at a certain safe distance,

in a certain conventional tone:

talk about weather, arid trying to predict

when the swallows would make their way home.

I knew tier in my little town (in that town

now reduced to a handful of ashes)

but I grasped she was never to be any more

than she was: just a sad, wistful girl.

I could see it so sharply I gave her

the heavenly name of Maria:

my personal system of seeing the world

always goes straight to the truth.

Maybe I kissed her just that one time,

but only a kiss between friends

so off-handed and spur of the moment

it could never have meant anything.

I cannot deny that I liked

being with her; her vague, gentle self

was like the unthreatening aura

that blooms out of flowerpots.

I cannot make less of the depth

that her smile could take in and hold

or disparage the soothing effect

she could work on the very stones.

One thing more to confess: her eyes

gave a faithful account of the night.

I admit these things, trusting you still

see my point: that I did not love her

except with that fuzzy compassion

we might feel for an invalid aunt.

But yet, it did happen. But yet,

what astonishes me to this day,

that amazing and troubling thing happened:

she died with my name in her eyes.

That girl, that immaculate multiple rose,

that girl, who could generate light.

They are right, now I know it, those people

whose lives are one endless complaint

how this jerry-built world that we live in

is worth less than a broken-down crate.

More honor is shoveled down into the grave

more worth lies in a rusty old nail.

Nothing is true, nothing lasts; not even

the trouble you go to to see it.

Today is a brilliant blue day in spring

I think I will die from all this poetry.

And my fine melancholic young girl-

I can’t even remember her name.

All I know is, she passed through this world

like a random dove fluttering by.

I forgot her, not meaning to, slowly,

like everything else in this life.

Nicanor Parra,

Poemas y antipoemas

(translated by Naomi Lindstrom)


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