Love is a place


Evening falls and, from the terrace,
listening to the leisurely waves,
I stare at the beach, with a lukewarm sun
and calm, green and orange sea before me.
I see a tall woman arrive,
almost naked, with a silent child,
and he is stark naked. They are the only ones on the beach.
The child sits down, and doesn’t move.
The woman drops her gear and the clothes
and moves around him, picking things up
and dropping them again. She does not speak to the child.
All at once she leaves.
The child gets up and dips his feet in the sea.
He stands still looking at the horizon.
The woman comes back: she is carrying a drink.
I feel the chill of the setting sun on the nape of her neck.
She hasn’t said a word to the child and they both stand
with their feet in the water.
The woman goes back and continues
her dance around her disorder.
Even distance cannot conceal the desolation.


It was a wooden piece of furniture, huge and dark,
polished like a mirror:
my father would never allow
anyone other than himself to work it.
He would always play the same record,
as though trying desperately
to find out why, when he listened to it,
it arrived somewhere.


Robert Schumann, Concerto for piano
played by Friedrich Gulda.
I go on listening to it and remember
a street of small houses in Las Palmas,
each with a goat on the flat roof.
In the background, the sea.


He underlined as he read: he did it as though the book
were a house on fire.
His mind was searching for something
implacable and abstract that they had hidden from him.
Lots of pages ended up covered
by underlinings in pencil and ink,
black and coloured, one on top of another.
His meticulous, confused self-portrait.


His face gradually set
in the fixed expression of an anger
that came from having lost his way
in some profound incompetence.


And later there arose
the innocent smile of his silence.
He didn’t know me:
I was part of the lands
he had with such effort won back from the sea
and which the sea was flooding again.


When I turned fifty I bought myself
all eight volumes of Gibbon because I thought
that at the end of my life I would read them.
Sometimes I go over to where they stand,
and simply touching them with my hand calms me.
I haven’t read them, but they keep me company.
Now, an imperceptible voice tells me
it’s high time I started reading Gibbon:
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
is this History known as Universal,
the only kind that consoles.
As useless and magnificant as an aerial view.


Nobody comes along it any more, the path
we see from the house. Grass grows over it:
now there are only nervous blackbirds
pecking at quiet absence.
It’s a path of no return. The house
endures slowly and, very often,
muffled in mist.
Here inside, memory turns welcoming.
Welcoming and sad, for nothing
protects as sadness can.


Love now means gazing out of the windows,
for the past is a holiday
for us alone.


I am looking at a photograph
on which a ray of sun is glancing.
So much talking and so much arguing
while our love was slipping away from us.
No logic can cross the abyss
there is between saying I love you and not saying it.
I smile in front of the photograph.
We love for a long time.
How reluctant it is to leave portraits, the sun.