The following was written in response to a letter to Adán from Celia Paschero, an associate of Jorge Luis Borges, who was coming to Lima to do research for her doctoral thesis, Contemporary Peruvian Poetry. The letter read: The reason for this letter? In addition to expressing my affection for you, I have another purpose: to ask you for information about your life, if possible, told with all the spice you know how to sprinkle on everything you say and write, because I have suggested writing an article about you for La Nacion . . . I have just started publishing articles with them, and I want to write a human article, through which one can feel your blood and your skin . . . I know that this whole business could be loathsome to you. But in the name of the warmth there was between us when we met, in the name of the affection I feel for you, in the name of my profound admiration for you, please respond to my request. Leave aside all your bohemianism and spill it all out in what you write to me and . . . speak to me about yourself. Can you?
You want to know about my life?
I know only of my passing through,
of my weight,
of my sadness
and my shoe.
Why ask who I am, where I’m going?
Because you know plenty about the Poet, the difficult
and sensitive volume of my being human,
which is a body and a vocation,
Yes, I was born,
the Year remembers my birth,
but I don’t remember,
because I live it, because I kill myself.
My Angel isn’t a Guardian Angel,
my Angel is of Satiety, of Remnants,
and carries me endlessly,
stumbling, always stumbling
in this dazzling shadow
that is Life
and its deceit
and its charm.
When you know everything . . .
When you know not to ask . . .
Just chew on your mortal fingernail
and then I will tell you my life,
which is nothing but a mere word more . . .
The whole of your life is like the wave:
knowing how to kill,
and knowing how to die,
and not knowing how to tame plentitude,
and not knowing how to wander home to the source,
and not knowing how to quiet longing . . .
If you want to know about my life,
go look at the Sea.
Why do you ask me, Learned One?
Don’t you know that in the World,
everything gathers from nothing:
a shrinking immensity from here to the next star,
nothing but a trace
eternally barely the shadow of an appetite?
The real task, if that’s what you aspire to,
is not to understand life, but to imagine it.
The real isn’t captured: it is followed,
and that’s what dreams and words are for.
Beware your innovations . . .
Beware your distances . . .
Beware your thresholds . . .
Beware your refuge . . .
Who am I?
I am I,
ineffable and innumerable,
the figure and soul of rage.
No, that was at the end . . . and it was the beginning
and it was before the beginning began.
I am a body of spirit fury,
which is serene
and of harsh irony.
No, I am not the one who seeks the poem,
nor life . . .
I am an animal hunted by its own being
which is a truth and a lie.
My being is so simple and so breathless,
a piercing of a nerve, of flesh . . .
I was looking for another,
one who has been my search for myself,
I didn’t want, and don’t want now, to be me --
but another who has saved himself,
or who will,
not the being of Instinct, who gets lost,
or of Understanding, who steps back.
My day is a different day,
some days I don’t know where to be,
I don’t know where to go in my jungle,
among my reptiles and my trees,
my books and mortar
and neon stars
and women rising around me like a wall,
or like no one at all, or like a mother . . .
and the newborn who cries over me
and through the streets
and all the wheels,
primal and for real.
Such is the whole of my days,
unto my last afternoon.
The Other, that companion, is a ghost.
Is there air
on which you choke and yet delight
in your inane body?
Nothing equals the endless surprise
of finding yourself again,
always you, the same selves among the same walls
made of distances and streets . . .
And the same skies, roofs
that never kill me because they never come down . . .
And I’ve never achieved the turbulence of the divine
nor affection for the human.
I’m this way without regret.
That’s not how I feel.
By day I am the Outsider
and, if I think about it, the Absolute of Zoology.
Or like the ferocious carnivore if I take hold.
Am I the Creature or the Creator?
Am I Matter or Miracle?
You ask: what is mine and what is another’s . . .
Who am I?
Do you think I know?
But no, the Other doesn’t exist,
only I am, fiendish and orgasmic!
With all my dreamed-again dreams,
and all the coins collected,
and all of my body
resurrected after every coitus,
blind, vain, without a reflecting pupil . . .
When you’ve become nothing more than being,
and if you reap the age of dying,
and when you have learned, and truly know,
that life and death are yoked together . . .
Then I will tell you who I am,
certainly, yes, and without a voice, my friend!
They heal themselves with potent herbs,
those pure animals who speak to you,
there, among immaterial stones,
in the world of our reality and our sciences
where putative foul-smelling boys
have had some fun.
Indeed, life is thus a delirium,
and yet my nothingness,
never revealed in this life,
nothing of it,
yes, is real, like the exalted blue,
How late Time comes to forgetfulness
It comes dragging — like a deluge —
aggregations, earth, the human.
How one comes to oneself at the wrong time!
How unforeseen and desperate is every now,
every I that collapses within Time,
forever always and always never.
Eternal unsleeping dawn
in which I resign myself to my deeds
and my thinking!
Loneliness is the hard rock
against which the Air hurls itself.
It dwells in every wall of the City,
Ceaselessly I hurl myself,
my own hazard, my own creation.
Poetry, my friend,
is inexhaustible, incorrigible, indwelling.
It is the infinite river,
wholly blood, wholly meandering, wholly ruin
dragging along what we live . .
What is the Word
but a vain and varied shout?
What is the image of the Poetic
but a log quickly shifting beneath the nullity of a cat?
It’s all a deluge
and if it weren’t
nothing would be real, be the same.
Love knew only
to swallow its own substance.
This is how Creation renewed itself.
For me, the world is yesterday, but I’m alive,
and sometimes I believe,
and the moment suckles me
I’m not one who knows.
I‘m one who no longer believes.
Not in man,
or in woman,
or in a single story house,
or in a pancake with syrup.
I ‘m nothing more than a word
flying out of my forehead,
taking pity on itself, perhaps nesting
somewhere high above this sad spring.
As for Being,
don’t ask me again,
I no longer know . . .
And I knew simply I was no longer
what I was not,
I don’t know how,
and that things were,
even this nothingness of me.
I was seeking,
I don’t know when,
numinous and ensnared
within it . . .
I, born scrawny, already fully armed
and seeking the word with every step,
one that burrows
or one that leaps.
If this isn’t my life,
what could life be?
May time from within itself give me Time
and I will remake my eternity,
the eternity I no longer have
because I discarded it . . .
having held it for one moment too long.
Have you heard of the abandoned ports
of lunacy and taking leave,
of the cetacean with its drenched costume
that can’t swim and keeps falling?
Have you known so much about a city
that rather than a city
it seems like a dismembered corpse,
myriad and infinitesimal?
You know nothing.
You know only to query.
You know only wisdom.
But wisdom is not to be with no thought
of anything at all:
but rather to keep on,
on foot: into now.