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This poem is taken from PN Review 148, Volume 29 Number 2, November - December 2002.

Poems with No Names and Autumn Melancholy (translated by James O'Connor) Dulce María Loynaz

Of the twenty-four hours that make up a day, I will always leave you one hour to abandon me, if that's what you should want.

You give me twenty-three hours a day, and you can keep one hour to think about leaving me, as long as you use the rest of the day wisely.

This hour is yours. I respect all sixty minutes of it. I control my breathing. I monitor every breath so that nothing, not even the air filling my lungs, distracts you from your freedom.

This is the hour of my self-annihilation, the hour in which I bind myself to my heart, in which I turn my back on time, face the wall of my angst, and tremble as a century passes through an hourglass.

But when the hour ends and I open my eyes and I see that once again you have chosen not to leave me, I look at you without making a single gesture, without saying a single word, as if you yourself were a miracle performed for me alone.

It is the miracle of every day, the miracle that is always miraculous. It is the wound that never stops wounding me, and the joy - the marvelously unsullied, unprecedented joy - for which I never stop rejoicing.


In the deep valley of my sorrows, you stand as silent and implacable as a pillar of gold.

You are descended from the sun. Dark, passionate, and smelling of woodland resins.

The light smells of your burnished flesh and your warm hair. And your mouth, which is dark and hot, is like an ember recently blown out by the wind.

Man of the sun, overpower me with your muscular arms. Bite me with your young, fierce animal teeth. Rip the sorrow from my hands, take my pride by force, and cast them down in the dust. Stomp on them with your despotic feet.

And then teach me what I still don't know. Teach me to live and die swept up in the grip of your talons.


You poured through my heart like the light that streams through the fisherman's loaded net.



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