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I understand only the ashes. The betel-seller looks at me, recognizing neither my shoes nor my recently resurrected face. Perhaps his grandfather would grant me a salaam, but it so happens that he succumbed while I was travelling, dropped deep into the well of death.
I slept in such a building fourteen months and the corresponding years; I wrote out my misery. I bit I pass now and the door is not there. The rain has been working overtime. Now it dawns on me that I have been not just one man but several, and that I have died so many times with no notion of how I was reborn, as if the act of changing clothes were to force me to live another life, and here I am without the least idea of why I cannot recognize a soul, of why no one recognizes me, as if everyone here were dead and I alive in the midst of such forgetting, a bird that still survives— or, the reverse, the city watching me, and realizing I am the one who is dead.
I walk through the silk bazaars, and the markets of misery. It is hard to believe the streets are the selfsame streets; the black eyes, hard as nailpoints, glare back against my glances, and the pale Gold Pagoda with all its frozen idolatry has no eyes now, no hands, no longer any fire. Goodbye, streets soiled by time, goodbye, goodbye, lost love.
I return to the wine of my house, I return to the love of my loved one, to what I was and to what I am, water and sun, earth ripe with apples, months with lips and with names.
I come back not to return; no more do I wish to mislead myself. It is dangerous to wander backward, for all of a sudden the past turns into a prison. Extravagaria was the only volume currently on the shelf, hence I began there, and what a treat it has been.
The poems are simple, intensely personal, and filled with imaginative and often startling metaphors, leaping into the unexpected and inviting rereading again and again.
This edition was translated by Alastair Reid, the translation being beautiful. My Spanish is too rudimentary for me to be able to judge the accuracy of the translation, but the Spanish is listed on the facing page, so it is easy to see that Reid has stuck close to the original. Even without facility in Spanish, I found myself going back and forth between the Spanish and English, reading the Spanish aloud just to relish its music.