1

Exile Key, wood.

November 1994 unlock the door, from the hallway, old linoleum

floors, slightly musty smell, into the room, the smell of old Mattress and box springs against the opposite wall, Ilona Llega con la Lluvia, On the left, sheets and blankets thrown over; small table, dime store gooseneck lamp, books on the floor there. Las Últimas Tardes con Teresa are legible titles. style used-60s.

past the bedside table, a small window and then an armchair, On the opposite wall a few cupboards, hotplate, sink, and further down, coming back to the entrance, the door to the small bathroom and closet. End of the line. will come later. Today a few Turn on the heat for a while, the bill Glass of water, bathroom. Pull back the curtain, narrow alley, brick more students grasped a few more concepts,

wall, the rain not letting up.

2 struggling. High school Spanish. He could be replaced; there's Look out the

no art to it.

Can't dispossess art of life.

window, light and air. city.

This room is a point of transcendence to Turn of the century

anguished nothingness, solitude, despair.

In a billion years the sun will engulf the earth, what

then little man? Future scenarios, that is to say in 500 years we will look back on the year 2000 as we now look back on the year 1500, the least to say with acceleration factored in. Man, as he will be then, should be able to ride out the next collapse and expanse of this universe like a god. . . or would certain physical realities still contain him, these walls we face of mass and energy, gravity wells, light speed, death. the bed. That Pale existence. long ago June and Salvador had been Lie down on married five Wait - la bête noire - six months. In Paris money and

years; then June asked Salvador to leave.

love had become difficult; at his sister's suggestion Salvador applied to fellowship programs at various universities in the United States. faculty, having UCLA accepted him; he found out later it was their interests as they did, found very because of a paper he'd published that certain members of the fashionable, Le symbolique, l'imaginaire, le réel. June and

Salvador had met there in Los Angeles through a mutual friend, a radical economist, first at a café, and then a philosophical soirée. arrived American She from was five enchanted with his foreign accent, newly years in Paris; his latin color, straight He saw her as a healthy and comparing her to It was a eyed and pretty,

black hair and elongated structure. blond, blue

French women as he did, still fresh and innocent.

passionate romance; he bought her chic silk dresses, lingerie and perfume, and she took him to the mountains and the beach. The genres mixed, the sex became cheaper and better, more and less natural and at the same time. best Then Salvador he finished was his doctorate accepted the position offered,

teaching modern French literature at the University of Oregon.

3 June stayed at UCLA with a year left towards her bachelors in business law. The romance sharpened with the anguish of separation and holiday rendezvous. secretary-assistant to William June finished her degree and James, the criminal defense

joined Salvador in Eugene, and soon after obtained a position as lawyer in the northwest. The dream starts I'm walking north down a street off the boulevard de la République in Paris at night. hotel. street lamp in a long winter coat. I go past a small Up at the next corner there's a woman standing under the I notice I'm wearing a As I Vaguely

short-sleeved beach shirt but I don't notice the cold. me go back the same way, ostensibly to go to the hotel. replied "it's you," between asking and declaring.

near the woman I see that she is June, who takes my hand and has it seems that she had said in French, "finally," and I had As we neared I the hotel a car passed on the street, a new black Peugeot. car went by.

saw June in the back seat and she smiled at me distantly as the I turned back to my companion and saw she was an Before I could answer I wake up. Marieex-lover from Paris with fiery eyes, who nodded and said, "that was her wasn't it?" José. Six months of waiting for something to happen, a sign, a direction. . . nothing. Inertia. something. Go to work, come back, eat, sleep. I said that if nothing happened I would have to do Call Bruce, see if he can get me some heroin; and Marie-José, long time since I've I was going home, rue Voltaire, near place She

slowly turn it in, end it. thought about her.

de la Nation; she was on the bus; I noticed her place de la Bastille; we were both standing, probably early afternoon. looked very sad, dark clothes. We looked at each other, then

again; I went over to her, said something like you look so sad. I can't remember if we got off at my stop or if we went on to hers at Vincennes. Got off and went into a café. Can't remember if she was working or was a student; one of our first

4 rendezvous she met me at this publisher of a review called the 20ième Siècle; she worked there; I can't remember if it was in the printing of the review or if she was a writer. After I knew her she took me out to visit her family's place in the suburbs. I remember her little attic room at Vincennes, one small window looking out over the rooftops, a sink, hotplate, a mattress. Her clothes were strewn about. couldn't discover what made She was always crying, before we at the time I think I and I think I We saw her so unhappy, made love, after; she was very unhappy;

decided it was her chemicals; her eyes were always sad. periods of isolation.

each other from time to time; then I was going through one of my Lost it, took a train to London, with When I came back she was walking She had come to see me. to be with her for very She long, Then I only the ticket in my pocket. towards me down rue Voltaire. didn't have enough patience

helped me come back down, slept with me, had me eat. probably didn't understand enough. Then six months ago June asked Salvador to leave. is still, and then he left. He didn't ask her why.

It took

a couple of days for him to find a room, the same one where he The last time I saw her I think I figured it out. lunch downtown, months ago now. don't see why I would. She was cold, aggressive. Met for Black She from Still are big

Don't think I'll see her again, I guess we started was set too sterile;

business suit, black stockings and heels. saw a drop in status. The were like university isolated, of grade centers

drawing apart when I left the university for a high school. traditionally society, protected business. real. see. from universities society, apart

almost

monastically,

learning. they

school,

Thought maybe teaching high school I would be more Our paths crossed, paralleled, diverged. Now I

True, but even less meaning, like a 5 cent truth instead She never questioned the status quo, the world is good and

of 10 dollars.

just; and I had ceased to question; I knew and didn't care, and

5 she didn't know. death I see, and my Black night doesn't exist; rare instances of in she the distance, I was. are psychotic Never really loved me, Cosmopolitan

destruction, soul, but what

perversions. She's light and beautiful. thought

traveler, exotic animal. Didn't know that from Buenos Aires to Paris was exile, ciudad de la furia á la ville de la lumière. Scattered sentiments and memories; exhausted resources, mother and father in Rio, across the border one day ahead of a décret de régime; sister in Mexico, didn't know where, had to take the next plane or train. for a year. Down the hall, turn the key, open the door. sun is becoming weaker. Sister is right about Outside the the masses. Father's cousin, Armando, who put me up

Bruce says you don't need that, can't get it, going to have to go to the streets. in the void. The streets. of July. living Cité. atelier. with My first experience was in Paris at the end an actor, at Bastille, in a converted In June I'd left Armando's place in Nanterre, and was Jacques, I'd gone to an organ concert at Notre Dame, Ile de la June; started going out as soon as I left. Nothing to teach here, spent It's true it was a false security.

Coming out afterwards, as I walked across the esplanade, She looked back at me with a I caught up with

a girl caught my eye about 30 meters away; she was going towards the Seine and the Quartier Latin. look of follow me, or hello, if I registered what the look was, or if I was rather drugged or pushed along. her. when Maybe I should have been taking notes, because the details as I remember neurotic, things maybe went smoothly. taunting My first amante before, We

have been lost, especially of the first month of seeing her, française, more French than others that followed; very nervous, definitely hysteric; virgin pute during, and slut after, to resume what I remember.

spoke in English, I think because she was using the opportunity; when I spoke French she didn't approve. Parisians try to leave

6 in August; I didn't know it was important to them till later. Brigitte spoke English well, and apparently spoke German. She was very critical, and probably thought me naive, and she seemed older than I, though it was actually only a matter of months. Things started to go bad in September. Always ambivalent We We towards me this became more pronounced. drove her car to London. room. We were fighting.

There she said she wanted a separate

I was becoming more and more sad and disillusioned.

went to the coast, Cromer, a little resort town, now quiet, raining, and our stay of a couple of nights was almost romantic. I still have photos from there. But then back in London, before we had got a hotel, driving still; we were fighting; I remember the scene clearly, the street and traffic, the brick buildings. I took my suitcase and got out of the car, told her I'd see her back in Paris. I was extremely upset. My French was becoming serviceable; the meeting Brigitte I met Joëlle and her In Paris I moved out of the loft and into a studio just a ways down the avenue. next week-end after

girlfriend, and shortly after Suzel and her girlfriend, in the Quartier Latin, and with whom I only spoke French. Brigitte didn't want to speak French; she didn't like my bare studio, a mattress and a little heater, which obviously lacked the chic of an atelier. metro. In enjoyed it. bought some. hour. I called her many times from a pay phone in the the beginning she had got some hash and we had I went to Belleville, les Buttes Chaumonts and She didn't appreciate it. The last time she made

love to me she came by unexpectedly, maybe it was her lunch It was like she was servicing me one last time. Then I went underground. except at night along the Seine. and was went over; to a classical winter in concert, I lacked courage to go out, And one night I smoked hash sitting one in night the I very would back find Summer

balcony where it was impossible to see the performers. that Cuernavaca

myself nerves wasted, weak and numb, face down in the gutter

7 where I'd fallen, the drops of glistening rain water. The

Sorbonne had started but I wasn't there except for dropping in on a lecture from time to time. and sat by her. It was in an amphitheater; one I went over day on the other side I saw this very pretty girl. from Colombia; but by then I had given up. I had some money; I called my sister, Isabel, in Rio. London. Barely real; sleepless, desperate. I left my apartment to an American girl and took a boat-train to I didn't perceive it at the time but from then on I didn't own my feelings; a rendezvous in a café, she doesn't come; I wait and then I leave; I didn't care if she came or not, and walking down the street I sense the sadness in the air, trying to be inside of me, but not, the inside was stripped. Europe, as tall as me, On the ferry across the English blond; hardly speaking I We Channel, there was an Australian girl headed home from a tour of dishwater imagine, we went down into the hold looking for the sleeping cars of the train, but none of the compartments were open. laid down in the hallway of the car and made love; I pushed up her blouse; we pulled off our pants and threw a jacket over us because it was cold. In the morning on the English side of the Plane channel we shared the same compartment going into London. to New York, then to Rio. This morning I dreamt I had to leave, there was a parting with someone, and the anguish was impossibly real and heavy. accompanied the movement. losing her. It Tried everything I knew to keep from

We became friends, small and pretty, visiting

Now feeling rides perception, rides it in from the

outside, and from the imagined, imparts a sort of texture and substance; especially in the forest, wild and distant; there reality does not attempt to invest me; I can color it with desire in safety; aesthetics. Is some sort of poetry still possible? In the light blooms the passage sexed to outrance,

8 Purifies the destruction until gratuitous desire Brings renewal bleeding for her subversion. Short-lived. Time to sleep, time to work, time to die. Subvert disembodied

Subvert the vicious circle of materialism, of production and consumption, which has killed the spirit. communication, vicarious (voyeur) fruition of another's past or experiences, sans risque, sans aventure, which has killed the soul. Andrée, like an enigma, that one turns over and over in one's mind for years, each surface presenting new aspects leading to new interpretations. once (which I have translated): the tension and the movements in my heart are always there; but they are subject to the Spirit, now and for the future. a little invisible personage has taken shape and is constantly at my side. his eyes wide open - he takes hold of A section of a note she sent me

every possible action, places it in an eternal perspective and looks at me with his wide open eyes - Thus the illusion of choice is demonstrated at every instant. Because I was in duality and restlessness during almost all of our relation, I was surrendered to myself; I couldn't have the Spirit of God with me, the Consolator promised by Jesus. Thus you couldn't sense through me the marvelous eternal hope which is ours the ineffable sweetness of eternity in the Kingdom of God, the fullness which is there. "What is born of the flesh is flesh and what is born of the Spirit is Spirit," says Jean. perfect, like me or Vanquish the flesh and be born of "Be and the Spirit to obey this commandment that Jesus gave us: your Celestial Father are perfect," "Nothing impure can enter into the Kingdom of God." I've found a poem she wrote for me, read once or twice 15

9 years ago. In the chest, the fiber is pushed back, compressed. in a paroxysm the space grows and the real and the impossible fight alternating in a burst of brief sparks my life breaks against the rampart of your body the dull black backdrop of the sequences which draw closer defiance embraces space measures my heart No, you cannot be dead love, coming from God, clears a way above your head, above your body space is filled, the fiber appeased and you enter the infinite I abandon the substance that one impregnates and one absorbs hour after hour in the wait for god for life the fiber distends, the space grows and grows the pain nears paroxysm nears a resolution Between the skies and the earth a tension is awakened the refusal of your death deifies me I defy the skies.

10

Coming from God, love realizes the project; your body is fashioned, vivified. In the translucid and golden vein my love is sustained you cannot die the paneling and the white wall of your room the ceiling set in its moldings the round table, the tender bed. Held in the interlacing figures of the rug, the profound scarlet defined the space of life. from only one place your image appears but you fill the space time unifies your movement makes you hierarchical you become symbol of the illusory choice.

Battle after battle I wash my clothes of the tobacco of your kisses and I ratify the renunciation now I can take off the black shirt where your perfume had taken because my soul wants to live. like the vertical lances of El Greco the ramparts protect your place

11 where do I live? the time which passes belongs to you from instant to instant the volume of time grows the setting of the diamond grows each of your words is a precious stone every gesture that you made is now right your blue presence oh that my soul breaks and that you live! your body was like an overturned cup your arms a shield your legs, those of a beautiful child your head, a sentence of death my tears were of water simply my heart overwhelmed, a fountain of another time love, the rough sea searching for its bed love, the sea crashing against your cliffs of bronze a song of love that only an echo returns the space deserted, an immense cavern. the smooth walls which climb to the sky strangeness of the death. Loss of vigilance surprised.

your living heart, sovereign and hidden. my soul reaches out to my God to join you to join you absolutely

12 my love is appeased at the sources from which you come. God is close to me I love you prematurely - it is too soon - it is BROKEN my breath imprisoned - I smother I still wanted to listen to a poem, show you a design Listen to the silent and golden light all the space present of your room the soft expected rhythm of your voice the caress of your words your soft heart in accord with your look an instant. I no longer see you, the screen of death passes

a simple derision supplants the reality of my heart. that my life be music, design, figure. pouring out in the words so that, rejected, I might live without falling. that similar to the love coming from God the love that I give you transcends the death or pressed by its contents the cup is broken. In the original French: Dans la poitrine, la fibre est repoussée, comprimée.

13 dans un paroxysme l'espace s'accroît et le réel et l'impossible luttent se succèdent dans un éclatement de brèves étincelles ma vie se brise contre le rempart de ton corps le noir terne rythme les séquences qui se rapprochent le défi embrasse l'espace mesure mon coeur Non, tu ne peux être mort l'amour, venant de Dieu, se fraie une voie au dessus de ta tête, au dessus de ton corps l'espace est comblé, la fibre apaisé et tu entre dans l'infini. j'abandonne la substance qu'on imprègne et qu'on absorbe heures après heures dans l'attente du dieu de vie la fibre se distend, l'espace s'accroît et s'accroît la douleur approche du paroxysme approche de la résolution Entre les cieux et la terre une tension est suscitée le refus de ta mort me divinise je défie les cieux. Venant de Dieu, l'amour réalise le projet;

14 ton corps est façonné, vivifié. Dans la veine translucide et dorée mon amour se sustente tu ne peux mourir les lambris et le mur blanc de ta chambre le plafond serti dans ses moulures la table courbe, le lit tendre. Pris dans les entrelacs du tapi, l'incarnat profond définissaient l'espace de la vie. d'un lieu seul ton image m'apparaît mais tu remplis l'espace le temps unifie ton mouvement te hiératise tu deviens symbole du choix illusoire. Lutte après lutte je lavais me vêtements du tabac de tes baisers et je ratifiais le renoncement maintenant je ne peux quitter la chemise noire où ton parfum s'est pris parce que mon âme veut vivre. comme les lances verticales d'El Greco des remparts protègent ton lieu où est-ce que je vis? le temps qui passe t'appartient d'instant en instant

15 s'accroît le volume du temps s'accroît le serti du diamant chacune de tes paroles est une pierre précieuse chaque geste que tu faisais est maintenant juste ta présence bleue oh que mon âme se brise et que tu vives! ton corps était comme une coupe retournée tes bras un bouclier tes jambes, celles d'un bel enfant ta tête, un arrêt de mort mes larmes étaient de l'eau simplement mon coeur débordé, une fontaine d'autrefois l'amour, la mer démontée cherchant son lit l'amour, la mer heurtant tes falaises d'airain un chant d'amour que l'écho seul renvoie l'espace désert, une immense caverne. des parois lisses qui montent jusqu'au ciel étrangeté de la mort. Perte de la vigilance surprise.

ton coeur vivant, souverain et caché. mon âme s'élance vers mon Dieu pour te joindre pour te joindre absolument mon amour s'apaise aux sources d'où tu viens. Dieu m'est proche je t'aime

16

prématurément - c'est trop tôt - c'est CASSE mon souffle emprisonné - j'étouffe je voulais encore écouter un poème, te montrer un dessin Ecouter la lumière silencieuse et dorée tout l'espace présent de ta chambre le rythme doux et attendu de ta voix la caresse de tes mots ton coeur doux à ton regard accordé un instant. je cesse de te voir, l'écran de la mort passe

un fait dérisoire supplante la réalité de mon coeur. que ma vie soit musique, dessin, plastique. épanchement dans les mots afin que, rejetée, je puisse vivre sans déchoir. que semblable à l'amour venant de Dieu l'amour que je donne transcende la mort ou pressée par son contenu la coupe se brise. Then I didn't think this poem as beautiful as I do now. Not the influence of nostalgia, not regret. Later I understood something about art and style, that is, take a work of art, or literature, in the making, in trying to polish it, take out the asperities, the roughness, make it commercial, purified of personality, character; censure it to please the greater number.

17 Almost a year in Rio, Ipanema really, with Isabel; parents back in Argentina, a month there with them. Isabel, we complement each other; now that we'd spent some time apart it was more intensely clear. you do but do something. Father always said, I don't care what We had to figure out what; Isabel After leaving Argentina

chose dance, and I chose literature.

she spent a year with the Ballet de Mexico, but she didn't really get on well, and when she visited our parents in Rio she ended up staying, joining up with the Ballet Municipal de Rio. When I was there she had a large studio which worked alright, because she was touring quite a bit, and sometimes I slept out. To make ends meet she also taught at this Russian woman's academy. But when I arrived in the beginning of December she Neither of us ever went in much

wasn't as busy, the summer holidays were starting and went on through carnival in February. out of town. people, work. the for such festivities, barricaded ourselves in the studio or went My health improved, with Isabel, the climate, the women. I probably shouldn't have gone back to

Paris, but I would have lost almost two years of university I arrived about mid-summer. Another American girl was in my apartment so that is when I got the studio rue Voltaire. Towards the end of summer I met Andrée for the first time, in the post office; she was sitting at a table looking at a map. We looked at each other, and I asked her what she was doing; she said she was going to go pick grapes because she needed money. I forgot about her but then a month or two later I ran into her again, passed her on the street, stopped and talked a minute. Meanwhile I was back in school, and things were going fine at first; passion, built. had some casual losing girlfriends, then Sophie, Marie-José, I wanted Catherine. Then about Christmas I started thinking I needed weight, decided that Sexual tension

started

eternal love or my destiny clear before me.

At times I became extremely lucid, and for a couple of

months I was balanced there, but I didn't get the answers I

18 wanted so I pushed on. near l'Opéra, sit and Sometimes I'd go to the Café de la Paix think and watch the passer-by; met a

fellow named Christian there who was doing more or less the same thing, writing poetry as well, though more down to earth, more in control, though that wasn't the issue, which was memory, Lately being in control Christian said as my divesting oneself of memory, and "ego."

has been an issue, where out of control is when one's behavior is not monitored in relation to a certain norm. Then I went almost a week without he was living in the 18th century, moitié aristocrat. sleeping; terrestrial ties became more and more painful, of anguish, they became more tenuous. the wall, then look In the metro I would look at the map on at the station name over the map and

remember where I was, then look at the map and find where I was going, but when I had found where I was going I could no longer make the connection with where I was; this cycle repeating. took long walks across the city. Logic warped, voices. I I

walked to the Hôpital Saint Antoine to interne myself so they would put me to sleep; I walked around there and left. opinion about what the voices were saying to me. I decided to go to England, find a place with a backyard garden, have my parents come. night. I kept thinking that I would The crossing is at A man in black was throw myself off the ferry into the channel. unwired in one or the other of the salons. Another time I walked to Notre Dame to confess and to get a priest's

I slipped in and out of consciousness, sitting wired and

French and following me to make sure that I didn't take out any cultural secrets, or to make sure that I made it, or perhaps to pass me some money, because sometimes I realized I didn't have any. During the routine revision of passports the authorities As I remember the ferry going back didn't On the French side the police questioned became aware of this; on the English side I was detained, was sent back to France. have any passengers.

me, looked at my address book, and finally decided that I should

19 go home to Paris. Later it seems like Brigitte told me they had

called her at her parents about me. I remember being in this small bunk room with the guards, who were playing cards, and thinking that the game was cosmic, and playing out destinies. They gave me a sandwich. was going way to fast, We drove to Lille; I was in the back and was asking him to slow down. seat; I remember getting very upset because I thought the driver Everything had huge import, cosmic balance; universal meaning hung on every gesture and symbolic configuration. pulled up to a church; why? to the police station; why? call. the train station the man In Lille we Then immediately backed up and went I think this is where they made the At was and I warmly shook hands, I

Then they decided to put me on the train to Paris.

thinking he was like a father to me, and he gave me a cigarette. I watched the countryside going by. into Marie-José. On the floor was a calling In Paris I ran card for a Madame Rosa, in Paris, a voyante. on my door and asked for Madame Rosa.

The next morning about 10 a young girl knocked I called my parents and

was surprised that they had been worried about me; I think they mentioned strange letters that I had sent. In the early summer I would try to rendezvous with a lover in Norway, but the authorities in Denmark would not let me go through their country, because of the X on my passport where England had barred my entry. something. They were not so nice, I was aware I had money and my lover's I didn't of their guns, of their distrust, like I was a terrorist or I became very wired. address; they put me on the train back to Germany.

have a ticket and the controller gave me trouble; he told me to get off at the next stop, but I didn't and rode on into Hamburg. At the station a cashier told me I could get a refund on the unused portion of my ticket, but I had to buy a ticket back to Paris. I had to wait for 8 or 10 hours; I walked in the city When I got back to Paris for a little while and then went back to the station, which is very magnificent, of steel and glass.

20 it turned out to be a voyage of 35 hours. Went to Portland for drugs, the streets of Eugene are clean, superficial. The bus at 7 am, crowded; a seat is vacant I ask if the

next to this woman who is looking out the window. turns back to the window. as June's.

seat is taken; she slowly turns her head, mumbles something and I sit, look at her again, hair to her shoulders, that covers her face that I could see, the same color As the bus leaves the station the woman looks almost I don't mind so much for myself, but I agree with She was in Eugene towards me and mumbles that it is stupid not being able to smoke on the buses. her. She complains about the restaurants and cafés of Eugene

where one can no longer smoke, and I agree. café exactly.

from Portland looking for a job, something in a restaurant or Her eyes are watery blue, complexion pale and Off and on we talk, about Eugene, Portland, flushed, oval face, small nose and mouth, a little overweight, about 35 years old. the weather. She's wearing a jacket of indefinable style over a

navy blue leotard, cut just to show the start of large breasts. By Salem we are making out; a seat clears out in back and we move. would It's been six months for me and it seems like it for her; be to take comfort and solace there, but they are so many times I see women's breasts and I think how nice it unavailable. I throw my jacket over our laps, open her pants In Portland what now; we

and slide my hand in; she's very wet. cigarette.

look at each other; she says she's hungry, come on, lights a We go out of the station turn right and walk about a I block; Saturday and quiet downtown, overcast; a small café, some windows along the street, vinyl booths, coffee, breakfast. maybe she can help, she knows some people. has another cigarette and I bum one from her. tell her why I've come to Portland and she says wait and see, After breakfast she She says I've got Fine. We go to the Afterwards she

a flat, take the bus, only about ten minutes if I'd like. Like a room in an old hotel, with a kitchen. bed and make love, ardently, appreciatively.

21 smokes, we bathe, she turns on the TV, black and white, soaps. She's neither here nor there, sort of in a fog; we're on the bed. Conversation, love-making; I notice fine lines on her breasts, capillaries on her thighs, her buttocks are smaller than proportion; I gather from her looks, the tone of her voice and her remarks that she is content, especially with herself that I am a school teacher, which seems to improve her selfesteem, like she does not realize I am a loser. Perhaps not to her, married to a high school athlete, she was a cheerleader; small town on the coast; he went to work in his father's auto shop, drinking more and more, stayed because of the children until it just wasn't possible anymore and came to Portland, a job as a waitress; but there wasn't any money in that it was easy to see and so she started to look at other options, and ended up doing little dance routines, stripping. At least that is what she said; I glimpsed an empty envelope from the state welfare department in a corner of the kitchen counter. 11 November, Rio de Janeiro Dear Salvador, I am writing even though you haven't written me back since the last letter. but that I is understand no reason that to a cut separation off your can be traumatic, sister;

isolating yourself only makes it worse. stay with me. other side.

I think you should come

I know how you are and I'm afraid you're going to You know I love you and if something should happen You know the You need to leave

stay there until something breaks; end up irretrievably on the to you I would die; I won't let you slip away. meaning of life is not June, not hollow love. You need a change of perspective. have space. become towards big cities,

that place; you have walled yourself in with your nightmares. I know how claustrophobic you but here the people are

different; even though it's crowded one respects each other's It's like you want to go out in the desert staying

22 there; the Americans I have met are hopelessly ignorant of the flesh and the spirit; you'll be martyred for ideals. Look, I You as a have a larger place since the last time you visited (what was it, some five years ago) and you could have your own room. needn't even think of it as a permanent move, just

vacation, a change of perspective; but if you should stay I'm sure you wouldn't have a problem finding a job, and you would be much more appreciated by the students, and you know how much your staying would make me happy. Salvador, if you haven't called or written in a couple of weeks I am going there. Love, Isabel. (translated from Portuguese) Hollow love, corporal more like, sublimed perhaps, but

visceral, animal. . . oh dear Isabel. . . she might be right about a change of perspective, but then the world is the world, and there are advantages to the desert. not June is true. The meaning of life is A long time since I reflected on that one.

In the beginning life was the escape from necessity, a slightest move towards ever higher forms of organization, as opposed to the ineluctable entropy of the physical universe, at least that is what the scientists say. The philosophers say that life has enabled spirit, and if freedom from the material world exists it will be there. Creation, in the beginning, and now. . . the Killing time, in the mundane sense, or Leslie crossed my path to form of the spiritual creation has changed, perhaps not, ever higher spiritual forms. the metaphysical. No heroin; on reflection sidetrack me. Said she could probably get it for me, but she Thought about it a second and gave her a Her hair isn't really at all the color of And actually she was

didn't have any money. could use the money.

hundred dollars, thinking that even if I don't get the drugs she June's; that was part of the interference.

pretty simple, one could even say vulgar, cooing and practically

23 gulping the sex. Large breasts. And I was caught up in the First started noticing in everything glows, intense,

élan, and now comes the disillusion. Done that a lot, never learn. Paris. Get to a place where

aesthetic, mystic beauty; could be in a vacant lot full of weeds for all it would matter; then after the first ecstasy things begin to lose their vibrancy; with that one regrets flying in the first place. I supposed I loved Andrée but I was never enamored. eyes, pubescent body, virgin, her spirit in the air. certain grace but she wore horribly plain Large brown She had a partly

clothes,

because she didn't have any money; that taste was undeveloped; and such an obvious form of seduction, corporal, was beneath her interest. the name. She used a completely unenticing lime soap, I forget The first time I tried to hold her hand I was told it She lived down the street with an old woman, had I think I only went into that apartment Then she took We kept

was forbidden.

a bedroom of her own.

once, and remember it dark and full of furniture.

a room of her own up stairs in the same building.

running into each other, and then we started to make rendezvous; she wouldn't go into my apartment and of course I couldn't go into hers. The situation evolved. Holding hands, then little kisses, then sitting on the stairway of my building and kissing. Her mother died when she was very young, and her father raised her, her brothers and sisters; he wouldn't let them go to I school. was A sister was in an asylum. to learn that Andrée One brother I met was played the piano. That

certainly strange. surprised

Another sister and brother were "normal."

summer we took a train to Nice and then a boat to Corsica, where we joined her brother and his wife in a vacation cabin for a month. It was hot and dry. There was a long dirt road through I floated on acute desire and the maquis to the cabin in the hills; the beach was down on the other side of the paved road. memorized Mallarmé.

24 The image of a world. streets. slaves of the system; a Dreamt all night. comprehensive Hiding behind the perspective

Reading has led to this:

we are all or some or none historical

could be a way out; out of something exactly and into something else, movement, perhaps progress. talk behind my back. I don't like it when they Not there, La maja desnuda, le The chemistry is accurate.

there, not there; one could disappear. The air too hot or cold.

collier de perles, les bracelets d'argent, comme on voudrait. When adolescent I remember an afternoon birthday party. me kiss her; and then later she would, Fauna. life isn't worth the trouble. symbolization. Guerrero? Yes. One day they I

was pushing the girl I was seeing on the swing; she wouldn't let This slut of a Repression, in the most abstract will come to my door. Mr.

social or political sense, has engendered the virtual death of Come with us please. Try to build a

The anguish is a lack of creative élan. sustain itself. conditions:

system, perhaps with a solid base the vast fragile edifice can For intelligence to exist there are necessary hunger; memory or some way of recording experience,

otherwise experience would wash over consciousness like a wave over sand, without reflection (this complex would lead to the perception of time); perception or sensation with filters that would allow for the distinction between self and not-self; a capacity for movement of self and manipulation of reality (hands work very well); enough change in the continuum of reality to register on consciousness (the timing of self and not-self would need to be more or less of the same speed); communication with other entities. Hunger, reality and the mirror. not-self. superfluous. symbols: Self is distinguished from The rest is Hunger (pleasure and pain) enforces participation. The scenario shakes down to the same set of basic

Parts of reality are cut out, tagged with language.

house, car, road, door, window, bed; sitting, walking,

25 running; mystification or knowledge; desire. up, regresses, obsesses. would a be a non-functional value, need (un The process hangs

One must suppose a life force, not free-for-all. manque) is a Abstract negative repression value, so a

necessarily sexual, but without sex and corollary bonding it creates that state, tous laissés-pour-compte. positive substitute something But élan vital is

that requires acquisition (accretion),

negative stasis, en deçà duquel l'organisme ressent le malaise. Au-delà des rythmes autonomes, instinctifs, hunger and sexual desire swell and subside, entail "organic rhythm." to waste; the economic machine is immune to This is laid seduction and

subornation, since disembodied. Beings are subsumed; their only way out is continued failure, which can force enlightenment, such as unrequited love. No one ever asks my opinion about anything. part, about the necessary conditions for original. The first is intelligence

The second part is bric-à-brac, except for negative The easy ideas have

stasis which came from molecular biology.

been taken; it is harder and harder to be genuinely creative, and fundamentally relevant as well; which is why some say art is at the end. People don't change. A colleague at UCLA, a therapist finishing her schooling, was busier than usual and I asked her what she was doing; she said she was writing a paper about adult personality development. short one and laughed. had said existentialist. Part of the anguish is that June was reality. person in exile. line; there were At first her family and friends, the dinners and parties made me feel less a Her destiny, her calling went in a straight no waverings, no hesitations, no vicious I said that will be a When I once asked her orientation she

circles; there weren't any questions, and I insouciantly went along for the trip, at times surprised by the clear and clean perspective. Until I came to Eugene; then something happened, perhaps the story was getting old; by the time she rejoined me I

26 had fallen out. Looking back it seems like I never had a lasting effect on anyone. sinning Andrée sinned for my cause, but she didn't continue after I had left for the United States, rather she In the beginning June and I would lie around Even before we separated she

sought atonement.

nude in the living room listening to Russian opera, yet now such an idea would never occur to her. the business look at work. had left off feminine fashion for the sporty look at leisure and The closest person to me, my sister, lives without my influence, not that I would ever reproach her life style; our lives at least seem to parallel, even so distant. Through layers work; of deserted, the window with the clouds stream past in shades the rain the streets Park, are and engaging Butte experience; along walking the of to gray; and in practically river,

beautiful,

running

Skinner's

everything is wet. Leslie called,

It seems like the last attachment; I see find the drugs, said she needed the

films with actresses that used to move me and watch careless. couldn't money to pay the rent, but she'll pay me back as soon as she can, asked when I'd come up again. I can remember perfectly well the house where June and I lived, wood floors, large kitchen, but I can't remember living there with her; I can't remember cooking with her and eating together; to assure myself it happened I go backwards: but I can't remember. I dreamt I was in this very large building made of cement; I was walking down a hallway, as large as in a subway. perceived that I had my suitcase, old brown Samsonite, vaguely that I was looking for a room to stay. I and we lived together so we must have cooked together; we shopped together

Then there were

a lot of young kids, in shorts, dirty and rough like Brazilian pivetes; it was like they were swarming around me, a lot of confusion. clear away. As I got towards the end of the hall they seemed to I perceived that I no longer had my suitcase; felt

27 upset thinking about the missing clothes and the suitcase I had had for a long time and grown attached to. A man appeared, like to show me my room; I let him know that my suitcase was missing and he said they would look for it, which did not lesson my distress. Then I understood that I was to be a teacher there, single 35, white likes female, horseback 5'9", riding, good physical walks, If If I like it was a boarding school and I would be living there. Attractive, condition, active, coast, Hard up.

dinners at home, seeks SWM, 30-45, same interests. Box 9289. her criteria for beauty are the same as mine.

looked twice at her in one of these supermarkets I would bet a hundred dollars she would give me a look that would shrivel a potential rapist. Maybe she was the woman at Sheldon Pool who I smiled at and said hello before I asked if I could share her lane for swimming laps, the pool being crowded, and who said, I don't know you. Every stranger is a psychopath. Then I was at this apartment; there was on, about ten people; I wasn't I dreamt that I was in Paris; I had stepped out to a café to buy some cigarettes. a small party going

participating; I found myself in this bedroom; at the bedside table there was an ashtray with what looked like the rest of a joint. I picked it up and lit it; it tasted strange, synthetic; Then I saw a joint with the paper that had opened I picked I put it out.

up and inside there was a silicon looking substance. granular, tasteless. complicated, bizarre. like getting together thing.

up a bit with my fingers and put it in my mouth to taste it, The light fixture was a strange mechanism Then I was in the main room; people were in pairs or small groups to do their that I played with for a moment to figure out what it did,

I wanted to smoke some grass, but I felt shy about I hesitated and then said quietly that I would This girl that I had

inviting myself.

like to smoke some grass if it's possible. some with her.

vaguely noticed, with a little pipe, said that I could smoke When I got over to her it was like she became

28 busy with something; she handed me the pipe and the lighter. I

looked and it was ready to go; I lit it; one draw practically used it up; when she turned back to me I was still holding my breath. She took the pipe. Then we were lying on the floor; She was smallish, loose layered maybe we were still going to smoke some. vaguely oriental. gently pulling me over her. She was

We were getting closer; I think she was like wearing

clothing, black and violet like the radical students in Paris; she had cloth coming down from her head mixed in with her hair, like a Moslem; this parted just enough and she slowly started to kiss me with just a little part of her lips; the kiss opened up and became fuller and then she pulled away. having second thoughts. wants. She started saying not to take this to mean anything to go further like she was I said no not at all, whatever she My aroused feeling was Then we started kissing again.

quite clear and I thought that it must be to both of us and that she was accepting it; I moved my hand up under her skirt and started lightly caressing her hip. I felt her hesitation and excitement like she had thought me more naive and that here I was more sure of myself than she had expected, which she seemed to reservedly like. town late at night. got back, Then I was down on the street of a small I remembered that I hadn't told her I would since I was taking longer than I had

be right back, and I was worried she wouldn't be there when I especially planned. Then the symbolism becomes too complicated and sordid, It's enough to make believe

too much to explain and it would take an analyst to unravel. Analysts, the theories slice. one has killed one's father to clear the terrain; then comes the dream where one is in anguish the murder will be discovered, they'll find the body or someone in the family will let out the secret. A cold dark morning in December when one wakes tracked, A voice says in a room, at the mercy of those who could know. fini cette subversion de toc. Terrorisme.

to me, ça suffit maintenant, il faut passer à l'acte, c'en est I should carry a

29 gun. wrong; wrong. Bombs in department stores, make it difficult for them to It doesn't work; the action goes I say I am in control; I Lucidity at that critical moment, the most important, it went There are uncited references.

face, mannequins of death.

Transference is a letdown.

know what I am doing.

is not a criteria for judgment. I went to the open market

Jump the boat before it goes thinking I could find drugs

down, rejoin Isabel, or Paris, Mexico, save myself. there; put on some old clothes, sweatshirt, jeans, didn't shave or comb my hair. I went from booth to booth, looking at the merchandise, looking at the vendors to see if they might know. If I can't get something I will have to go to a doctor and get some tranquilizers for work, too close to the edge, might do something wrong, thinking it's right. where I came from. I said. Around. After about an hour I The man asked me came to this couple selling silver jewelry.

I looked at the display, nice work, They both have long The man looks at me "Busts "I'm not a narc."

On the rue Voltaire one morning I saw a man working I look at him, "I'm sort of looking for drugs."

over a small flame in a small dark room. sandy hair. The woman is slightly surprised, amused.

directly, then looks me over, adding in this new given. are coming down all the time on nice people." this is Ana." "My name is Salvador."

"We'll see; come over this evening, 633 West 4th, I'm Jake and A couple with young boys I move off. Fourth, the has come up to look at the display. make the streets dark. I walk over there about seven; large porch, I knock. She has me sit down, offers me tea. teach Spanish." quieres?" "That's dollars." This tough, is how a test. you Jake asks what I do. if "I not have then two Ana "I comes to the door, dark wool sweater, long dark Indian skirt. "Habla español entonces, que tipo de drogas "Opium, want?" heroin." hundred I drank much

old part of town, two-story wood houses, a lot of large trees

"You give me the money and you wait here."

30 my tea, tasted like a leafy tree, and Ana and I talked about Mexico. Jake returned after about a half hour; he gave me a I asked if he'd taken a commission We said see you later. little brown sack rolled up. and he said yes; I said good.

I sent Isabel a postcard of Crater Lake - Tudo bem, te telefono depois, te amo (all well, I'll call you later, love you); I've never been there. it is I'm a reminded of of a saying in in the fails Portuguese, Deus propoe e o homen dispoe (God proposes and man disposes). French verb, Sometimes seems matter timing metaphysical sense, if there is a proposition. more appropriate, Here foirer, a that

something

lamentably, turns on emptiness, like a screw that turns without taking hold. At the university library, in the PQs, I see this girl who I vaguely recognize. the night before. I am floating, anesthetized from the opium Fluid. I imagined I was up Some of the newest Black Creek falls from drops down to the I had sat in the chair by the window at dusk

and smoked a little pipe full.

Black Creek above Oakridge, in the Cascades. mountains in the world, sharp, virgin. down through rocks, pools. The

snow melt down through its canyon, cold, crystalline, splashes mountain stream bed at sixty degrees; going down I fall and glide like a skier down a snowy slope; the canyon floor is old fir forest, huge moss covered trees, trees; the ground is spongy, covered with clover and ferns. At one place the the decaying slowly moss, the

mountain side has fallen in leaving a maze of uprooted trees, decaying, forest growing over, going back to earth; the river goes around; at another place the river goes under a set of five or six fallen trees cross-hatched across. I remember the girl but I can't remember her name. for the annual Eugene Celebration. Too many people. A couple of months ago I was downtown to watch some rock groups In the center of downtown there is a square; in the middle there are groupings of cement pillars of different heights, an assortment

31 of huge blocks, like a sculpture; the bands are playing there. I go over to one side and sit down against a building at a distance from the people. Later two girls go walking by; I look at them; one stops and then the other; the tall one says I know you. I look at her. "You were my Spanish teacher last year." I remember, pretty, blond, blue eyes, an A student. No more Spanish she said but now she was taking third year French. I moved the conversation to French for a moment, not bad; wanted to know about Paris; wanted more tangible progress. I said if she went there it would be practically automatic; at any rate the learning slowly accumulates over the years, though young as she is she won't have noticed. I suggested that she pick up a She left. novel, something like that to read in her spare time. I left; the music was unsophisticated. There between the book shelves I consider passing on by, pause for a moment, then I move down the aisle towards her, shuffle my feet on the carpet so I won't startle her; she turns, I say Hello. She smiles, "Señor. . . I mean Salvador." "What are you doing here?" "Looking for a book." "Like what?" "I asked my French teacher about a book I could read and he said that the l'Etranger by Camus is very popular with students. . . Have you read it?" I think of Robe-Grillet, Modiano. "No, I leafed through it once. "Here." "You're practically there. . . Let's see." "There's Camus, La Peste, what does that mean?" "The Plague. I once read that one." Her hair is shoulder length, I wait while she finds l'Etranger. I say there are some tables over there by a window. Have you the call number?"

32 loose, straight; she's wearing a dark green hooded coat, sport, of gortex, and jeans, light brown suede shoes. "What are you doing here?" "Looking for a book to read. card?" "No, I was going to look at it here." "I can check it out for you if you'd like." She looks at me. "No hay problema, if you'll bring it back to me or to the library in a month." I take out a piece of paper. "Here's my address and phone. . . you can bring it by anytime, if I'm not home just leave it in front of the door." smile. airplane I look at her, we "Call if you have a question about l'Etranger. . . I can to Paris, had to look up every other word in the I come here to read the newspapers, Le Monde and El Pais. . . Do you have a library

remember the first novel I read in French, I started it on the dictionary, and read everything twice, and sometimes it still didn't make sense. . ." She looks at me, registering, curious. "A used paperback by Simone de Beauvoir that I had picked up on the run." She didn't ask who that was. in Buenos Aires. her. She asks, "Aren't you leaving?" "I still have to find a book. . . unless you would like to go get something to drink." Pause. "No, I need to get home. . . "Tchau." Probably is going to go to her little boyfriend. Saturday evening, rain. Smoked, spread out. I saw her on the bed, thin, blond, white, stretching like a sleeping cat. Au revoir." I didn't say that the first French book I had read was by Henri Bergson, while I was still We go downstairs and I check out the book for

33 Then I saw Catherine, the young lycéene who was almost dragging on a sidewalk terrace Boulevard St. Germaine some ten years ago. With her friend at the table next to mine. They were going to a One thing She would club that opened to minors on Saturday afternoons. Saturday or Sunday afternoon was reserved for her. knock and I would let her in. very thin, blond; she had a weak heart.

led to another, I don't remember exactly how, but eventually We would make love; she was tall, Once she brought some

of her school books to show me; once some rock music in English that she wanted me to help her understand and which was hardly easier for me to decipher; once she brought her friend. five. She said there was an English boy before me, once. We Later hardly ever went out; I would walk her back to the metro around I think she ended up marrying an English boy. I dreamt I was walking along a dirt road in the forest; the road had a layer of snow; everything else was black, night. could feel the presence of the fir trees on both sides. A white night, call in sick. I was visibly upset, nervous. He prescribed the valium. "I don't drink." To be young again, and proclaim revolution. It is obvious there is only one way out, outside of something for the style, rotten destiny, which is far from me to say, stuck in a little drama. To flower and die. Santa Teresa gray sheets She brings me loveless rain, quiet The room is bitter, my mouth tastes of metal. still lives, a fate worse than death. nothingness enveloping me like cold across the sky. The doctor wanted to delve. I said it is because my wife and I

I separated recently; I am having trouble getting through it. As I was leaving he said, "You shouldn't take valium with alcohol."

She snares a tortured body, wants me to take La visión, Jesus, la cruz

away; her eyes shine blackly, water running over her cold hard breasts, thighs tensed in anguish. (the vision, Jesus, the cross), sent down through the rosaces of

34 her church. away. me By this pale light in the distance. Truth shreds

Ayuda me a levantar los ojos ciegos a la luz absoluta, a blind eyes to the absolute light, to your perfect Strip

su belleza perfecta. Santa Teresa da me su coraje y deseo (help lift beauty. alone. Saint Teresa give me your courage and desire). Why does she come and leave me?

me to the blackest orgasm. body, her dirt.

Take it away, take it away, leave me It is her sin, her I would go with

I cannot remember how I came by her book and

the pages were sepia with the smoke of fire. present. Night love). is

Constance now I remember her body, her face, but the other is We kiss standing, I feel her body through the cloth. a barrier. Absolutely forgotten. Los siglos nos

separan, mi amor eterno (the centuries separate us, my eternal I have to work; I have to sleep; I need to bring everything down to survival, valium. pain with for as long as she I continue to think about Victoria. lives; her body to whole relate but to a out of Taking maximum doses of morphine so that she can live with the balance, the nerve's signals made infernal. uncompromising of her intensity, unable to outside nightmare. Reduced She communicates world what

thoughtlessness,

thought does not flee, incapable of assimilation, she said, "At least you can form projects." In silence I looked at her, large blue eyes; a cream in her hair that I do not understand, from time to time a little white saliva forms on her lips, that she dissimulates, a disappearance that I barely perceive. I should have said what project could I I didn't say in your shoes She would have said I have that would be worth the pain and trouble; what sort of projects could I possibly conceive? I would have thrown in the hat long ago.

did. The rain, winter, is coloring my ideas. I dreamt that I was going out on the ocean in a river boat with some acquaintances. We were going to put in off an island and ride a current that would push us in between the island and

35 the mainland. It is raining very hard and it seems dark; I The ride would be thrilling, the I think that I

still haven't decided to go.

current very swift and the water very rough.

would be using a light wetsuit, but even then I think that if we capsized it would be very difficult to get to shore, the wetsuit probably insufficient against the freezing water. The train up the Pacific coast, June and I on honeymoon. Winter, through small the towns, the forest wet covered mountains, We took fields the and ferry pastures, rain and the ocean; naked in the sleeping compartment, window countryside. across to Victoria, Vancouver Island, our faces moist and salty with the spray. but June didn't. alone and I From Victoria I wanted to go into the mountains Looking back it seems she was changing, no It seems like I was stay; I went to a find a place to

longer the woman who took me to nature. couldn't

discothèque downtown to see if I could get picked up; I remember it almost happened with a older woman at the bar, a weekday and she had to work or something. About midnight I drove to the ocean, past large Victorian houses and landscapes along the bay; finally a beach where I was able to sleep, waking up cold, the wind and waves. Monday afternoon, no where to go, school is out for Christmas vacation. excite me. Someone If I had some money I could fly down to is knocking at the door. . . again.

Acapulco for a week; even if I had the money the idea doesn't Salvador sets the book he had in his hand on the floor, gets up from the chair and goes to the door. blond, green coat. . . Amy. "Hello." "Hi, I was sort of in the area and so I thought I'd stop by and see if you were home." story." She holds out her hand with a book. "I never "I was thinking maybe you could tell me something about this Salvador looks at the book, then at Amy. read it, but come on in, we'll take a look." They step into the There is a girl there,

36 room, the chair and bed, light from the window. the floor, in front of the chair. "Want something to drink?" "Nah." "Let's see the book." it. She hands it to him, and he opens I wouldn't start a You "1942, published during the war. . . well, the opening sets They settle on

the story. . . `Today, mother is dead.'

story that way unless it was going to be totally demented. know I'm probably not a good person to ask about this book." "Go on." "It's a bad start. tomorrow. Sincerely." `Or maybe yesterday, I don't know. "Mother dead. That doesn't mean anything.

I

received a telegram from the asylum: was yesterday.' mean anything?

Funeral

Perhaps it what doesn't Why does Salvador

There is some ambiguity here:

That his mother is dead, or sincerely.

it matter today or yesterday; he mentions it twice." looks at Amy, she laughs a little, embarrassed. "I don't know. what it means?" "He doesn't seem to want to situate it What do you mean?

The guy doesn't know clearly. `The A Is the

asylum for old people is in Marengo, fifty miles from Alger.' So they are in Algeria, in North Africa, French colony. Stuck his mother away, didn't see her while she was dying. he making this up or is it more or less autobiographical?" "What "If difference is does it it up make? then . . I is mean, what's difference?" he making what presented would probably have more symbolic value than if he is merely telling what happened to him. It would depend on how he ends up dealing The ambiguity could be an or diminish the symbolic with his mother's death, but the fact that it opens the story gives it a lot of weight in his mind. effort, content. conscious or not, to mask French man in Algeria, I think I read that he grew up there.

Is this the act of sevrage from the mother, etcetera?"

37 "I don't understand exactly." "It doesn't matter." "I got the part that his mother died, and then he takes a bus, but the rest. . ." "That's normal, if I knew more about Camus and his work then there would be more to say, but I don't, you and I hardly know anything about this. watch him reading. "Then there's this scene with his boss, excusing himself for his mother's death. call a weak character. that death is It seems like he has what one would Then what does the fact that Emmanuel's To show to have or did this just happen Let me read ahead a bit." While Salvador reads Amy looks around and then stops to

uncle died a few months ago have to do with the story? everywhere, actually happened?" "What's the point, right?"

"Is he fixated, or just talking to himself, which might mean the same? . . not that I am denigrating its possible Amy's hand brushes Salvador's arm; Salvador sits literary value, at least not yet." "Like is he serious?" they glance at each other, look away, smile. "Like does he really know what he is doing?" Amy. back on outstretched arms, straightens his legs and looks at "You sure you don't want a coke or something?" "OK." He goes down the short hallway and comes back with two glasses and two cokes. He sits down and hands her one. "I don't mind reading with you, it's enjoyable, but let's take a break. . . Going anywhere for the holidays?" "No, you?" "Nowhere to go." "Sure there is." "No money." "You must have money."

38 "I send money to my parents in Argentina, they need it and the dollar goes a long way in the third world. got everything." "I'm sorry." "Oh no, I'm not complaining. She has the house and car so now she has the bills for the house and car." "You don't have to pay like alimony?" "No children. . . when I was younger I étranger usually means she makes more than me. was going to be a foreigner, not stranger It's strange, You it know was like doctor. And then my ex

translated.

L'inconnu means stranger, like l'inconnu dans la

ville is the stranger in town." "Maybe the meaning will become clear later in the novel." "Maybe." "You are a doctor aren't you?" "I meant a medical doctor." "What happened, change your mind?" "A lot happened, and my mind changed." pause in the conversation. window, drink their cokes. vacation? "No." "No? "No. immature." "You think?" "Don't you?" "Depends on your point of view." "I guess I should be going." "You don't have to." "You're not busy." "Never." She touches his arm. a sensual undercurrent. "I need to." Salvador begins to feel Amy says, "Je t'aime," and looks away. A pretty girl like you." I mean I think about it. . . But they're so "You're not There is a long anything for They look at each other, out the doing

You have a boyfriend don't you?"

39 "Tu parles." "What do you mean, you talk." "I mean you don't know what you are saying." "I do." He leans over and touches her cheek, very pure, too real. They lean toward each other and kiss. sweater. The kiss continues. He pushes the coat back off of her shoulders; she is wearing a They lie back on the floor. There is an intense energy between them; carried on, without thinking, his hands move up under the sweater; he feels her shy. "Are you a virgin?" "Yes. It's okay." At one point they move to "I'll try to go slow." They go all the way through it. the bed. "When can I see you again." "Whenever you want." "When are you home?" "The afternoon. you want?" "I don't know. . . I love you. . . I need to think." "Come when you want." They go to the door. kisses him, "Je t'aime." "Je t'aime aussi." "Really?" "Yes." Salvador watches her leave and shuts the door. and looks out the window; it is dark out. turns on the light and starts reading. He turns He sits in the chair, She puts her arms around him and Nights always. You can call. . . When do When she shies he slows and lets her get used to it.

L'âme n'engendre pas la

parole mais se produit à partir de la parole, (the soul does not engender the word, but is formed from the word). She is beautiful, in her, propped up on my elbows, a pure sensuality in her face, a faint smile passes in her eyes and

40 lips. I felt like I was disappearing in a sweet light, then she pulled me to her. her fling. I can't fall in love with her, let her have She'll come and that It's She'll spend out her dream sooner or later and

realize the stark reality, an empty room, poverty. That would be the difference between this

then to her senses and leave me alone to the bleak horizon. anguish despair. cold. A vital branch stretched too far to the light that She might not even come back.

breaks in the winter rains. Days and nights. en rien (Bataille: terms.

Hunger, I hardly ate anything today. Sometimes I read. Où l'attente se résout He where waiting is resolved by nothing).

never did come to terms with evil, continued to think in those Good and evil do not exist as facts in the world, but I think she The last of my destiny that There is nothing to eat; the She left me calm, resigned; The world is only as values, like beauty, as pain, as ideals. was a sign that I should interpret. now I should drain from my veins. air, the room glows with despair.

opium I will need in a few days, a little respite. confirmation of a logical symbolism.

saying this is the affair, inescapable except in the spirit; Then flesh is a sin. It's like he They've This guy and girl are seeing each other. been staying with a friend of his. place which is also his father's. They are going to eat. was.

might be in a band, sort of about that age and manner.

Then they are at the guy's Nice, all the amenities.

They have cleaned up from an outing; I

can vaguely remember dreaming it but I can't remember what it He comes into the room and says to her that they won't have to go to his friend's because he has fixed the thermostat, which I now understand is why they were going there, but she is not very happy about that; I gather from an expression that passes on her face that it is because she actually likes his friend. She starts to object. I wake up. I Difficult to unravel, the thermostat was very important, and so was the outing, but I can't remember what happened.

41 was not an actor in the drama. wings, fleeting half-lit Christmas eve, the pipe, opium. from their celestial I open my Amy.

The angels are starting to come out; I catch glimpses of their reflections bodies; I drift. Knocking at the door. . . eyes. . . knocking. knocking.

Get up, move across the floor, open.

Salvador backs away and invites her to enter.

He goes over She puts

and sits on the bed while she goes over to the chair. it down and sits in the chair and looks at him. and cotton pants, he seems to be floating. "A mission of mercy?" Amy sits back in

the book down on the floor and then takes off her coat and sets Flannel shirt He looks at her,

the chair, dark T-shirt, sans soutien

(bra-less), an Indian skirt. "I want this." "I'm not in the mood for l'Etranger." "I just brought it along. "No." She gets up and goes over to stand in front of him. beneath the skirt, sans slip. a hand up between her thighs. river. He takes her by the hips and brings her closer; his hands slide up She is ardent; he dreamily sends The feeling is like the flow of a About eight she says she She says she'll come Do you want me to leave?"

They lie down and make love.

has to go and gets up and gets dressed. back tomorrow afternoon. on the chair. . .

She kisses him; she leaves the book.

The next morning when Salvador wakes he sees a small sack croissants; he looks out the window and then The child-mother, lying next to her, she comes again; she wants to read goes and fixes some tea. her breast, her skin. Christmas afternoon Camus; Salvador tells her to let him read a few pages. "It is well done, whatever he is after in the end. . . Right away he justifies himself for the fact that his mother was in the asylum, by way of the director. . . with friends her own age, with more the she was better off same interests; he

42 didn't really have the means to care for her. There is a

certain brilliance which seems to lead to a sort of epiphany, when the friends of his mother enter the morgue: their clothes escaped me.' "What is an epiphany?" "When suddenly one comes to see things very clearly, like a revelation, something is revealed to the understanding, experience is enlightened." "So like you asked, why, where is it going?" "Hard to say. For an epiphany this doesn't involve the Obviously The image of the woman with a scarf depths of being, quotidian, rather than metaphysical. he is dealing with death. `I saw them like I had never seen anyone and not a detail of their faces or And yet irreal, `It was hard for me to believe in their reality.'"

across her face, to cover the disfiguring disease that has eaten away her nose, which is probably considered to be one of the more hideous disfigurations. into focus. To my mind that image brings death I wouldn't say she The The scarf is white, a skull is white, and noseless,

the narrator doesn't want to see his mother. scene turns striking, brutal." "I didn't see that." "What did you see?" "Nothing." "I was getting to that. surface.

is the symbol of death, but she forms part of the complex.

With the image of the woman I Am I reading something Is Camus consciously programmed response,

started reading symbolically; her presence pushed me below the Then starts the questioning. in that doesn't exist? manipulating this Are you going to unconsciously react to to evoke a

something you didn't consciously perceive? scene unconsciously in the reader?"

"I'm just trying to read the stupid story." "I know, I'm sorry, but it was interesting for me: know how we are supposed to react. I don't Often a writer makes that

43 clear, or the reader knows from other contexts, or from others, such as critics. . . "Yes. . . "Enough." They are sitting on the floor, Salvador with his back against the chair, Amy leaning against the bed. "Where did you get that?" "I asked my brother for it, since it was Christmas he couldn't refuse." Salvador sort of shrugs his shoulders, "These days a lot of students smoke." "I don't or didn't, I don't know." "If you are asking me if I think you should. . . yes." "Why not?" "Why not till now?" "I guess I didn't feel like it, or I didn't think I should." "And now you do?" "Yes. . . anywhere?" "Not really. . . you want a pipe?" "You're going to smoke too aren't you?" "Sure." "Can you do it. . . . "Let's go." "Where?" "To the park." "It's sprinkling. . . this is intense. . ." "C'est magnifique, non?" I think I'm feeling it now. . . I've never done it before." We can walk to the park later. . . Do I have the car today. . . Do you want to go Probably She scoots So up to here you understand the story?" It's kind of boring."

"That's my opinion."

closer, pulls something out of her sack, "Look what I got."

44 "Oui. . . How far is it?"

"Three blocks." "It's starting to get dark." "Dusk." "The clouds, the trees, the grass. . . everything is different." "It's you. . . There's no one." There's the river." "Time for Christmas dinner. "Not so close." "I don't know why everyone thinks this is the worst part of town. It's close to downtown; the houses are older but more ooo." interesting; it's close to the park, and the river." "Crazy. . . "You okay?" "Everything is so beautiful." "Follow me, let's go down by the water. . . I always think the river is like molten glass." Amy comes up along side of Salvador. at the grey water flowing by. comes around facing him. and hair, a little wet. They are looking out Then she His She takes his hand. down here. . .

"You didn't know it was there."

He reaches out and brushes her cheek She steps forward and kisses him. He takes

desire pushes, hers absorbs; it is more animal now. bank, no one could see.

off his raincoat and puts it on the ground, looks back up the Amy puts her coat down on the raincoat. She starts to pull him onto her but He lets her come to a climax, They take off their shoes then their pants, sit then lie back as they push up their shirts. and then carry him through. They dressed and watched the river. "What about your family?" "I called my sister. need to see them. My parents don't have a phone. And yours?" I do I haven't seen them for five years I think. he tells her to come onto him.

Sometimes I think being here is selfish of me.

45 "We had Christmas round the tree." "And now?" "Visiting their families on the coast. not so important to them. see me at school." They sat in silence. "This is all going to change. privileged position in history. think that, but we should. . ." "Explain would you?" "Five hundred years ago man was on the brink of global exploration, and of himself, and that is more or less complete. We are reaping the benefits of technology, or raping, at any rate life as we know it is ending. Nature is being destroyed. One hundred years ago Los Angeles was little more than a pueblo. In five hundred years, even a hundred years, all of this that we see will we be different, seeing new the trees, start if of they his are planted, no new more houses, of what form? stops are Either man stops or man goes on - if he decline, Usually I think we are in a I realize that most generations Anyway family is We moved Their work is their life.

this summer, a new house out Coburg Road; that's why you don't

exploration, no more discovery; if he goes on we are seeing the first tentative steps towards control of the universe, not that control is something to be pursued in itself, nor has man sought control in itself, but rather as an extension of himself. You see, the alternative is stagnation and eventually extinction. Not in terms of an impending catastrophe, but in a time scale of thousands or millions of years. Anyway, to me it seems that further exploration is inevitable, and given what we have done in the last thousand years, for instance, it seems logical to believe that we are at a crossroads." Salvador looks at Amy. "Jesus." "Are you spacing out?" "I don't think like that." She says,

46 "I know." "And you don't care?" "No. . . "Yes." Salvador art." "I'm listening." "I'm not boring you." "Not at all. . . "No. They look at Aren't you bored with me?" I love you." Perhaps something is being other. You are beautiful. each stands and helps her up. "Existence is at a crossroads; worse, art may be at a dead end, and I care about It's cold, shall we go back?"

communicated.

Perhaps something alien, or universal. The death of art, in their thinking

"It is something I have thought, and it seems others are thinking the same thing. linked with modernism and postmodernism." "The problem is too big for me; I don't have the tools. . . Are there reasons?" "Principally exploited. What good Baudelaire? is that a all of the possibilities have been Nothing more to create, why reinvent the wheel? modern Shakespeare, Delacroix, Renoir,

I say that new things can be created but with They say that art will simply Which means Mass consumption, Salvador

diminishing relevance to life.

become more and more decorative and utilitarian. that art has lost the quality of discovery. like television. slows. "Amy." "Yes." "I don't feel so good." "What's wrong?" I'm stopping now."

They are walking down the street; it is dark.

"A malaise, don't let me talk like that again will you. When I was growing up we were taught not to disclose; I learned

47 it from my parents; because of the regime, and when one did disclose a linear discourse it was laden with emotion. . . the logic of war. . . "Thank you." "Have you eaten anything else today?" "No." "Let's go somewhere and eat." "That would be nice." "Can I leave the grass with you?" "Of course." They resume walking; Amy takes his hand. . . . I asked Amy if she danced; she said no. I had dreamt that I was in Isabel's dance class; the girl or woman on the other side of the bar, who was attractive and aware of my presence, pulled the straps of her leotard off of her shoulders and then pulled the leotard down to her waist, baring her breasts. I'm thinking about last week when I was coming out of a place and there seen was a woman I in looked a beige at her BMW and who I had she I occasionally inside. smiled; You are saving me." You ate the croissants?" "I felt that I think. . . like

rolled down her window and said her car wouldn't start and she didn't understand because it had never done that before. tried to help but the car wouldn't run. she said it had to be towed. resolutely modern, like I The next time I saw her I said I was reading some She

Later I learned that Susan works had just finished

with old French texts, 12th century, she said. biographies, and I mentioned Lacan. French feminists. nose. busy.

She said he is popular with

Susan is between 35 and 40 I imagine.

has short red hair, very pretty brown eyes, a sloping up-turned She lives on what they call University Hill. Then she left, said I'll talk to you later, like a promise, like she was I wonder how feminist she is, if she's like castrating. Her hair didn't seem to be that I talked with her again today.

48 beautiful red like it was before, but almost brown. after a few weeks. I asked her

if she'd changed the color and she said that the tint goes out Then she told me that she taught a catholic seminar for three years, and one day after class had been going for a few weeks a student raised his hand and asked if her hair was purple. She said custody of the eyes or you have custody of End of your eyes, something like that, and explained to me that in more ancient times men were not supposed to look at women. the conversation. me. The whole Now I think that she is trying to tell me complex must be because of her very small

something, or was, I doubt she'll have anything more to do with breasts. I can imagine how she must have felt or started to

feel before she took defensive action, when she saw that the other girls were already developing very nice ones. I dreamt I was kissing a girl, slowly the tips of our tongues met; then in the dream I was thinking I had made love to her, like it felt like I had, but I remembered that it was only a kiss. I opened the door to my apartment and Amy was sitting on the bed with a book in her hand; wearing a black knit skirt to mid-thigh over black tights, a white blouse, jacket and shoes on the floor. to wait. She said I had left the door open so she had decided Asked me where I'd been and I said walking. I went She said that she wanted to smoke some of While I was getting I

over and kissed her.

that stuff I was smoking that one evening.

it out she unbuttoned and took off her blouse, and then pulled her tights off. I thought it was cold but she said it wasn't. other, floating in the room, the room floating. up; she reached up and slowly undid it. would feel a desire to reach over and touch her, looking at each Her hair was When after a long while When Amy

she decided she wanted me and as she started to undo my clothes her fingers were cold. We read Invitation au Voyage. Eve. was leaving she said she was going to take me out for New Year's

49 Things have fallen into place; my desires are fulfilled; but I'm not sleeping, I still feel goaded. When I talk to I can read people in the city there is an artificiality, like they know I am imbalanced and they are acting like I am normal. again and focus my thoughts for longer, but contact with daily reality is fleeting when it is not slipping towards dullness; there are blanks. Something is wrong, I can feel it. Maybe I School should go somewhere else but I don't know where and I don't have any money to go there, and that would be running away. together. is going to start next week; I don't know if I can hold it What's worse is Amy will go back to classes; she will see her teachers and she will think that I must be like them, old and boring, and then she won't want to see me anymore. I dreamt all night. I was taking someone across the border; we were in this tunnel that would supposedly take us across, it seemed like I knew the way, but then I was starting to crawl into this small passageway in dirt; then there were boards nailed into place along the top of the passage which I had to pull out as I went along to make enough room to pass; there was light up above but I wasn't interested in going up but rather ahead. picking up The next one I was a student. like accumulated over the The class seemed The teacher was term. I was I went In like a Spanish language class in Argentina. work,

supposedly a good student but I didn't have any work. were all empty.

with him over to the files where we could also keep it and they I am saying to him well I hope you have it. the next one I was again a student; the teacher was out and I was filling in for him. I was sitting at this big table with When the teacher comes in I say He is five or ten other students.

here you go sir and get up quickly to give him his chair. have time to eat. New Year's Day. the fog.

tired and hungry like he had a very hectic day and didn't even It is very cold; I look out the window at Amy came in the middle of

What happened last night?

50 the afternoon. She sat in the chair and I was on the bed. She

said I seemed very nervous which was true; I felt like I was coming apart. Amy was animated, that evening she wanted to go to the WOW hall to see the Brothers of the Baladi, a rock group. was something else we could do. We thought about it; I she thought it would be noisy and crowded and I wondered if there agreed, the music wouldn't be that great. light. later. I suggested a small We were

restaurant bar, a table in a dark corner, dancing in the halfGood idea she said, but I couldn't get in. disappointed but we decided that we would think of something I was acutely nervous, perceptions were taut, wired; I Amy thought I was in a state and seemed half oblivious, empty.

asked me if I was on something and I said not since the last time with her; she asked if it was her and I told her of course not, out. and I explained that in the afternoons I was always nervous. She must have decided that I was hopelessly strung She came over and had me get up and then She sat me in the chair and then sat on my We We spread out, she was

She looked at me and then got up and took off her clothes.

I was etherealized. took off my clothes.

lap facing me. She slowly brought me to her and we came. took a shower and moved to the bed. lasciviously wet.

Around six she called out for pizza, then put on her dress. (She said she wore a dress because we were going out.) I had settled down and so we read for a while. was time to go and we smoked some grass. what was happening and I said okay. music was already playing, people We ate; Then she said it

She said we'd go see around outside, I

We walked to the WOW hall; standing

coming and going, young people, hippie looking, punk looking. thought I might see one of my students. and watched and listened.

Inside it was crowded,

we sat back up on the last row of these seats like bleachers, After about an hour Amy went to the bathroom and when she came back there was this girl with her. She introduced her as her friend, Sarah, and me as her friend,

51 you know the one she had mentioned. her. break. dance. people. to me. At She told me that we had

already met at the Eugene Celebration, but I didn't remember They sat and talked, the musicians had stopped for a Tall, brunette, a little stiff or inhibited, almost When the music started again they decided we would

mannequin.

It was okay, couldn't move too much because of all the Amy and Sarah were beautiful; Sarah was very friendly Then after a while I got tired and went and sat down; a The night went on like that. we all kissed. I got the they screamed and

few songs later they joined me. midnight

impression that Sarah had been with other friends, but that she stayed with Amy because she was her best friend. and they went home. That night I dreamt that I had met this girl who was a little crazy, loose, a small Indian girl; she was perhaps in an asylum or at least there were intimations of that, maybe even I was talking to her there. up in Alaska. She was drawing this little map and showing me where she had lived when she was a girl, this place Then I was with her in bed and we were making It was like I was at home love; she still had on her panties. We left in Sarah's car; they dropped me off; Amy said she'd stop by soon

and then I realized that a woman, perhaps my wife, was there across this big room, like working in the kitchen, like a large rustic cabin made of very strong wood; perhaps there were children present. For a second I was conscious of her presence,

almost as though she was complice and tolerating my frasque. Then the girl lifted off me exposing herself to take off her panties. was clean. We are going to put it in her and I wondered if she Then I am at this gathering of people, maybe the This woman walks by me and at first it

same place but now there are people around dressed like for a holiday get-together. feels like she was the one I was in bed with; I take her hand as she walks by; she's wearing a nice chiffon dress. She stops and sits down and asks what I've been doing with myself. I see it's

52 not the same person; more like a normal woman, like a wife with some sophistication and I know her from the past. Then I receive these pieces of paper; maybe it is she that hands them

to me; they are from the Indian girl, a little message and this map drawn on these little torn pieces of paper, about 2 by 3 inches. I am looking at the map thinking how well she did it, I remark to the woman, who says but she tore I'm looking for the place the like from memory.

it out of a map, and she turns it over and starts to unfold it and I see that it is part of a map. she mentioned to show woman almost knows. the woman, Carbough or something;

Then I start to tell the woman like what I Then some people sitting further away My grandfather walks by; Then

had been doing with the girl; her children come in, two I think, six to eight years old. apparently had overheard me, like I had been indiscreet, and here I was flirting with this woman. have him stop. it's like he is leaving; I hold out my hand to shake his, to He only reluctantly takes mine or doesn't. my father is there and they say I won't ever do that again, like this whole scandalous behavior. Selma, that I knew in Brazil. The people I meet have their distance. think. They don't seem to That I know too well the persuasion of discourse. The girl was like this girl,

deluded by reason, están enganados (they are fooled); not their error, the species adopted or adapted to a logic of control, power. autres. June. La technique de pointe, déployée à l'exclusion des Like in war where one front is extended which weakens I understood war. I was giving it up when I met Then I could afford it, a position, established; June saw Amy woke it, wanting to know what I was, and

the others.

where I had risen. . . . Monday. Tuesday. Read.

I gave her something she could understand.

Work.

Day by day.

At night feelings push.

"Una especie de loco peligroso, un esquizofrénico. . .

53 Te conocía, dijo que había estado contigo un par de veces y que no le gustaron tus remilgos, y que se quedó con las ganas de zurrarte." (A sort of dangerous crazy person, a schizophrenic. . . He knew you, said that he had been with you a couple of times Juan Marsé, Un día volveré) I am holding it down. Thoughts are and that he didn't like your preciosities, and that he felt like giving you a beating. pushed away, an image, Amy, Sarah, Amy must be busy; no work in school, it just started. . . . Time. No rain the last week, which makes it colder. alone; emptiness, pieces of the day, bits of Here, night, lesson plans,

questions and answers, students filing in, sitting; try to keep to the agenda, chapter seven by week's end; can't sleep, pieces of images turn to disembodied thought, repeating over and over. 2 am. Amy. the morning. I've forgotten that dream from last night; woke and Silence. . . an occasional train that passes some remembered it, very interesting, then couldn't remember it in three blocks away. Can't think of a girl that left without

saying something, like goodbye; we might have parted without firming our next meeting, leaving it indefinite, and then never meeting again. Marie-José, crying all the time. . . sad. in some way perhaps she foresaw how her life was going to be and it made her Andrée, didn't expect anything from the future except in It is like they understood or saw something that the next life. I couldn't. I dreamt I was talking to my mother; it was like out on this devastated terrain which I didn't notice at the time but only after waking, and when I asked myself what it resembled I found the opening of a crypt in the desert. She wanted me to come out with it, the truth; I was saying that when I had come back I told her she was, they were my father and her, mucking up their lives and she should stop drinking and get it together; I felt again the alienation that this had caused between us. She

54 said yes I know, like she understood I had been hard on her for her own good. Then she asked but what about you? I maybe looked up at the sky, picked up some dirt, and I said I was going after the big one. I said out there, and imagined black space, there are five meter cubes and I'm going to find one. During the dream I pictured one and their actual size seemed much smaller, but that was the dimension I was saying, un cubo de cinco metros; not necessarily metallic or stone, not necessarily natural or alien. About three hours It was like they were associated I dreamt that I was in the

with the door to the universe, complete knowledge. earlier kitchen and the light wouldn't work; I went out into the hallway to turn on that light and it didn't work either. into this it very was big too room far and and I too couldn't dark, see I the because but I looked out other side When felt someone's

presence there.

I said hey! . . hey!, and then I woke up.

I said hey it sounded like I was saying it in my sleep, it was hard to articulate, dampened. . . . Salvador is home from work; he is sitting in the chair; he looks out the window. fog, drizzle. who knows? door. . . Grey sky, perfectly homogenous, almost Maybe Amy will come by, knocking. . . the Kitchen light, toasted cheese Friday, then Saturday.

Time to fix dinner. open. . .

sandwich, bread, cheese. . .

knocking. . .

three policemen, hands on holstered

pistols, "Doctor Salvador Guerrero?" "Yes." One of them holds up a folded paper, "We have a warrant for your arrest." "Statutory He has another paper, "Search Warrant." "What for?" of a rape, contribution to the delinquency Salvador moves back into the room; they enter. minor, and possession of drugs." "What rape? Minor? Drugs?"

The other two officers start

searching. The remaining officer reads Salvador his rights.

55 "A Miss Amy Sundquist. Why'd you do it? . . sixteen." "That's insane." "I found a stash, grass and something else," yells an officer from the kitchen." "Tell it to the judge. jail. "Papers?" "Passport, license." . . . Cement walls, bunk, blanket, bars. She wouldn't. . . happened? . . . A couple of hours sleep last night. "Sit down, Mr. Guerrero." "What's this about?" "You are charged with statutory rape, contribution to the delinquency of a minor and possession of illegal drugs; it appears one is a narcotic. "I need a lawyer." "First we'd like to ask you some questions." "Not until I have a lawyer present." "Maybe next week. "Is it?" "Your green card could be invalid." "Doubt it." "We're getting in touch with immigration now. checking this PhD, see if it isn't a damn sham. shit, Sal." We're also You're in deep Your passport is expired." We'd like to ask you some questions." They brought me to this white room, a desk, two officers in suits, a mirror. Took a shaking, mouth dry. how could she? valium while leaving, Did Amy turn me in? What Still thank God. That wasn't rape. green card, social security card, driver's Get your stuff, you're going to You'll need your papers." The drugs we are checking now. . . she's only

a doctor, supposedly. . .

56 "Salvador. Check away. UCLA, that's the University of

California at Los Angeles in case you didn't know." "Why'd you do it?" "I didn't do anything." "People are saying you did a lot. "Mr. Sundquist?" "He's a big man in this town; he wants your balls." "Un maricón." "What?" "I want a lawyer." "Where'd you get the drugs?" "A lawyer." "What'd you do to Amy?" Silence. "You won't be teaching again." Silence. "You're going to get ten years for this. . . of here." . . . Salvador is taking a tray with his breakfast to a table in the cafeteria. "Hey you!" He continues walking. of him. Three men plant themselves in front The one in the middle says, "I was talking to you." The one who spoke seems mad; the other two are along Get him out Mr. Sundquist. . ."

Salvador sets his tray on a table and steps back, takes in the three. for the ride. "I don't like rapists." "Probly put a knife to her back some parkin lot," adds the guy to his right." Salvador says, "You ever fuck a chick?" The guy is thinking, looking for a trap. coming over to yer place for more, that rape?" "Yea, so?" "What do ya call it when ya screw a cunt and she keeps

57 "I heard she was damn young." "She wasn't a pre-schooler." "What?" "I'm saying she's past puberty." A guy sitting at a nearby table, one of the many taking in the scene, says, "He's saying she had hair, ya know, on her cunt. . . and tits." The brute belligerently, "You trying to get smart with me?" "What's your beef?" Salvador and the brute stare at each other, aggression has reached the snapping point, both of them have doubled fists. The guards are watching at a comfortable distance. this society bitch." "That so?" "Could be." The brute glances around, sympathy has finally swayed in Salvador's favor. "Yea, alright. . . Yer a stupid fucker ta come in here for a piece of pussy." "Yea, what'd you do?" "Some shit. . . for it." "He's cool Jock man, finish yer breakfast." "Later." "Yea." . . . Flat on my back looking up at the ceiling. dimmed the lights hours ago. vida. Until it is my life again. desserts. justice. Then a set-back, Life has always been out to crush me. How can they be so stupid. an Seems like they Puta. Puta Now I survive. Robbed some places." "Yea, if I'd known I was going to jail I could a gone in The same guy at the table adds, "Hey Jock let him off, huh, I heard she was

That's love, huh Amy.

Here they say they get their just They believe in earthly mishap; they see unforeseen

58 injustice, a crime against their bien-être. They get by, they

get around, and they forget; all returns to the just and true. There, righteous, they laugh at the misfortune of others behind their smiling faces. the message is clear. issue to force itself. Hah. Well I played the cards on the table and Wait and see I said, and waited for the See where it went. Hah. Nowhere. That

is what is great about being down, there is no where to fall. The cell is warm, food isn't bad, free, get my books and A few days, weeks, it doesn't matter, and Purity, like a it'll be back to normal, except I won't use up my time spoonfeeding knowledge. monk. Bliss. I'll be free from the world; it will fade away. No God, none of his tortures. . . . "Hey Salvador, get up, someone's here to see you." Down the hallway past other cells. ya gettin out?" "Fat chance." Small room; a man stands up; shaking hands. "Salvador Guerrero?" "Yes." "My name is Christopher Norman; you can call me Chris. I've been appointed your lawyer." A big man, blond, blue eyes, could have played football at university, a little out of shape, prominent cheeks and chin; professionally dressed; seems amicable. "You going to get me out of here?" "We'll see what we can do?" "You know what you're doing, you any good?" "I know my stuff. said you're alright." "That's nice." "Said she respects you but you're not compatible. What I'm Hey, it's okay. I know your wife, your She ex-wife I mean; when they gave me your case I called her. Someone asks, "Hey man,

59 saying is I'm on your side. here. You need anything?" "Some cigarettes? . . "No problem." "What's happening?" "For now all I know is what you've been charged with, same as you. "I know." "I'll see what's going on; see you tomorrow about the same time okay? Don't worry. Cigs and books, right?" "Thanks." "What kind?" "Marlboros." "I'll drop them by." "Thanks." "No problem. . . . I dreamt I was in the department office of a university, probably foreign languages. There were other people there; I I was picking up books had come to give this class that I was supposed to be doing as a replacement for the regular professor. and notes. I realize that I hadn't been filling in like I was Guard, we're done." I wanted to see you first thing, then I'll check into Were you framed; did you do what they say?" Amy, yes; but I didn't force her to do I don't think she turned me in. . . I don't was seeing the dossier. . . anything. . . Can you get me my books?" You got lucky, sometimes a court I'll do whatever I can

appointed lawyer doesn't give a hoot.

supposed to, like I had missed two or three classes before this simply because I had gotten busy, forgot, or simply didn't feel like doing it; and I notice that I am dressed rather sloppily. I feel the other people, and perhaps especially the secretary, watching me. other times I realize that a colleague was covering for me the and that he has apparently already come by the I

office and picked up what he needed to do the class again.

60 realize that the others are aware of this but to cover up no one has spoken with the people in charge. I feel somewhat miffed because the person is supposed to be my friend and here he is taking advantage of the situation and taking my class when I am there; then I am not so upset with him and I think I'll go see if I can get the class or team up with him or something. Into the new world. raining. sometimes behind; I don't Walking along a forest trail; it is know her name and I don't know A terribly pretty girl is with me, sometimes ahead,

anything about her; we have never spoke, like we have no common ground, like we are alien to one another and ignorant of each other's capacities of experience. We are wearing light synthetic rain clothes and we could be on an exploration of earth or an entirely different place. In the trees in the rain there are small fires here and there; there's a house, intact, we go in, empty. We sit on the floor in the big room, leaning When I look against a wall at ninety degrees from each other. and veer away. move, avoiding

at her I feel something sharp in my body, our eyes meet darkly We start moving around, and watching each other earthly contact, perhaps trying to scream or

pressing against the walls and floor, pausing to look out the windows or doorway. How far does she want to go; it's a trap and cold gnarls at bones, what was once a bloody revelation. Repress the memories An and let them disintegrate or let them form and coalesce. Diaphanous silk, still a delightful lure.

image of a rose no longer enchants and clear water grows murky. A rushing mountain I want to be in More, more, too river, not a meandering brook, greater forces. control distance on the edge of annihilation. soon, too late. All is lost. I think of her, then her poem, then her; I 3 am, someone is Like Andrée.

it, ineluctable attraction; approach, touch it, be swept along,

imagine I am in an apartment in Paris, walls, windows, doors, like a dream, a hallway, the light of night.

61 knocking. She comes in, what she carries in her large brown eyes, a little uncertain, suspended, almost innocent or feigned, a hint of love, slightly sensual, a spark of curiosity. Never a master could paint that look, the defeat of art, simple and yet ineffable, untamable. I come to my senses, creative failure. And stare at the ceiling in the pale light of the cell. And Amy. Her poem would be different, light, innocent, rebellious, and then sad. You were hiding Hadn't eaten or slept for days When I found you You were washed out And acted so alone You could fall away from me Sinking into misery Hold my hand and Everything was in a kiss Life and death And you were living And I made you smile But everything went wrong. If she knew what she was doing, and sincere, as if it mattered. . . . "Come along Salvador, your lawyer's here." Down the hallway and into the room. "Salvador." "Chris. . . Thanks for the cigarettes and the books." You're due for arraignment tomorrow." the rest. . ." "No problem. . .

"Do you know if Amy turned me in? . . "Doesn't really matter to you." "No."

62 "Here's the story: started seeing Amy you told that her naturally Amy has a close friend and when Amy friend that she felt was neglected seeing and jealous; without someone

thinking that there could be fallout. knows out of concern, spite, whatever.

This girl perceived that Her parents called Amy's

Amy was acting different and mentioned it to her parents, who parents, who saw you coming out of the WOW hall that night with the two girls; they pressed Amy and then filed charges." "Good then." "There's more. help a prosecution. sort of clinic, Amy refuses to testify, and so does her Amy's father has marshaled her off to a half mental, half medical and friend after seeing what came down, as if her testimony would something

expensive; rumor is she is pregnant. . ." "I need to call her." "Can't, father put a restraining order on you. . ." "What?" "A court order: her in any way." "Damn." "Rumor has it her father doesn't want the pregnancy to become news, and that he is coercing her to abort. . ." "He can do that?" "Pretty much. . . can keep her put virtually." "Nothing I can do." "Nothing I can see. . . "I get the picture." "So the charges relating to Amy have been dropped. . ." "And the drugs?" "The marijuana is a misdemeanor; normally the opium, being such a small quantity and you being a first offender, would have got you a slap on the hand, but this Sundquist owns whole Normally, marry her, but. . ." She can continue to refuse. . . in the clinic, not locked and he up but away You aren't to approach or communicate with

63 shopping centers, friends on the city council and everywhere, probably golfs with the judge. the maximum." " " . . ." . . ." "Which is five years." "After a couple of years, when things have cooled off and assuming Sundquist doesn't have influence on the parole board, you can get out on parole. . . were facing in the beginning." " . . ." You know they are working on having you "I suggest you plead not-guilty and we'll see if we can't weaken their case. deported after you've served your sentence." "I was legally married." "This they're security, will be after taken up separately; like a precedents it's threat in looking to Europe, like South going something contraband, national Not bad considering what you They're going to stick you with

terrorism,

America. . .

They might try to extradite you to Argentina to do but I think that unlikely."

your time, in the hopes that Argentina will add more time for good measure. . . "Ridiculous." "Yes, but. . ." "I know." "Tomorrow at the arraignment I'll see about getting you out on bail." "I don't have any money. going to be back in again." "Never say die, they haven't got a conviction yet." "Sure." "I've seen worse scenarios turn out better." "Okay." "Need anything." "No thanks." Besides what good is that if I'm

64 "See you tomorrow then." Chris gets up, goes to the door and calls the guard. is leaving Salvador says, "Hey Chris, thanks." off. . . . Sleep here in my apartment tonight; figure out what I am going to take with me. He got me out, $5000 bail. I said I've only got $2000 and I would need that to live. doesn't have to pay it all, but only a portion. why set bail at $5000 when it is only $2000. had her check. Chris said one Stupid, I said, As he Chris waves it

He just looked at

me and said that June was paying it, said she owed it to me; he He said she wanted him to relay a message, said No passport, $2000, People in Run for it. Getting into Mexico is This old suitcase run for it, there's nothing here for you. no ticket to anywhere.

supposed to be easy, just drive through I've heard. LA I could call, maybe they could help me. need the heavy clothes. Impossible. hard; the bus in the morning. rivers are

and a nylon bag; put them on the bed and sort things out; won't How could I get a message to Amy? Hell. Take a valium. Catch the It is raining The rivers are the rivers; the In that clinic.

A couple of hours sleep. flooding.

Huge, brown, fast, sweeping

along, floating branches and logs, a torrent. wind are eroding the land, washing it into

filling with silt and emptying earth into the oceans; rain and rivers are spreading out into vast estuaries; the oceans are rising, beaches are receding. . . . Two seats to myself. folks. Poor people, old and young. Young One day it will all flood.

mother with a baby, leaving her husband and going home to her Young man, mill worker, might have heard there was work Welfare, unemployment and social security. Old man in Yreka.

going to or coming from seeing a daughter or son, what's left of

65 his scattered family. Down the freeway in the rain. south, the end of Cottage Grove twenty miles Willamette Valley, up into the mountains.

Roseburg, Myrtle Creek, Canyonville, Wolf Creek, grazing lands, some places no more than a gas station and a freeway on ramp. They call it the I-5 corridor, Interstate 5, civilization; it looks desolate. Grants Pass, Rogue River, Medford. The bus goes into town, quiet, simple. been here forever; the rain, once the she Half hour stop, down the street was a belle; she knows the a

a café, yes they're still serving breakfast, the waitress has customers, passengers. Down rivers. Breakfast, coffee and

cigarette; windows, air, light.

The bus is almost full with new

Ashland, home of the Shakespeare Festival, Siskiyou the mountain, the flat lands, south for 1000

Summit, snow on the hillsides, California. kilometers, agriculture, east and west as far as the eye can see, Mexicans in the fields, wetbacks they call them, swam the Rio Grande. Gringo, Dozing off, motor hum, rain, the water on the road. more than a trickle now, all the water used hardly

upriver; no more water, deeper and deeper, all used up; they're moving farther and farther north. Almost asleep, the thought slipped irretrievable. I dreamt I was in bed with this person. bars. I remember the The head of the bed, metal that made a half circle, with vertical We were smoking grass and making love frenetically. person seems like a boy but the sex is a girl's so it doesn't bother me. I must have been on top because at the same time he wanted me to disconnect these electric wires between the bed and the wall; they were connecting and shocking, sparking, or it was the joint that was very badly made and falling apart, the cinders falling and burning my fingers; apparently we climaxed at the same time. Then he has rolled another joint; I see this one is very well made; I am a bit reluctant to smoke it because What was that logic? . . away, seemed important,

66 of what happened the last time but he convinces me, and we are starting to smoke it and then to make love again, but then I think maybe someone comes in or I'm worried that someone comes in, like his parents, and he hides it over to the side of the bed or tosses it on the floor. in this town. I wake and there's lights; we're Thinking back the person seemed like this girl I

once talked to in the library who was reading Milton's Paradise Lost for a Survey of English Literature class. Stopover in Redding. Angeles? No one. Sandwich. Who can I call in Los Paul, The Angels, miles and miles of pavement, una

locura humana, una ratera (a human folly, a rat's nest).

our neighbor, boy came out from Chicago, had a BS in biology; happily married to a nice girl; then he took graduate work in film. mundane What spooked him? financial affairs Let the whole thing go to come to of rich people, writing rejected Hollywood. Paper pusher in an office that takes care of the

scripts, three, four, thinking about going back and working for some local television station, no girl; after a year, drinking gin and smoking cigarettes. gave up. . . . Bus station, downtown L.A., sunshine, smog. Bus out He was thinking about buying a car then, maybe he'll have one by now, unless he moved, maybe even Gave him my address, said write if something changes; See if he's still there. never did write.

Wilshire Boulevard to Mariposa, Catalina Hotel in Koreatown, a bed, sleep. 7 pm, bus out Olympic to La Brea. Paul is gone. Big stucco house, light green, steps, porch, painted rust-colored, door and letter box, Latoya Smith. Leaving, looking back, the second floor reminds me, wonder if that crazy black woman is still there, a wig hardly better than the real thing, voice that rasped the cigarettes end of and the beer; called me a dirty Russian among The bed in control my line. Think, think. I other things. hotel; Think she went by the name of Gurdy.

67 destiny, there's a window, light, air. Best do it now, Macarthur Park, buy works, inject it all. cold fresh air. I miss the north, space, rain, Teaching wasn't so bad; the kids were decent,

respectful, conscientious; once one realized that their learning the specific subject matter wasn't necessarily, as they say, the be all and end all. Often it was more like transference. Met her She was That's finished. There's Liz, must still have her phone number. during teacher training, had a lot of classes together. provisionary license. maternal. little

already teaching middle school English in South Central with an She was nice to me, perhaps just a touch Drank a lot of coffee, a old, Santa Dial. single. Monica I always Hello somewhere. Fine straight auburn-red hair, strong well-delineated nervous, 35 years in

facial features, hips a little wide. insecure, her considered neurotic. Lives

There's her number. . . at the Catalina Hotel?

No choice.

Recording.

Liz, this is Salvador, remember?

I'm in town, could you call me See you later. Inside it feels It wouldn't I could go back and hunger.

Number 213-344-9047.

It is starting to hurt again. . .

like I'm strung with wires, metallic taste. be a good place to die. master of my fate.

do my time, but then what if I couldn't handle it. I could take a walk.

Better here or further down the road, It's night, you could But if they put Doesn't matter.

get shot or stabbed out there.

you in the hospital your name will go in the computer; if your name is in the computer it will be part of the machine; it goes everywhere; they'll find out where you are and come and take you back. You won't have any choice. Never have had. It is always move or be crushed, as if by machine. Le pis-aller, the lesser of evils,

68 less pain. Pain comes from the body and it's in the mind, so say it doesn't exist. . . say nothing exists and be done with it. . . say it is cursed. . . I am cursed. Amy. Without Lovely. I am free again. I pulled it out of the English word. I am out of the English word. The memory is painful. . . . I dreamt there was a dark pool of water and on the other side a woman was sitting on rock, maybe against a cliff; I can't remember if she was naked. . . . Empty day. I liked Los Angeles, and then I realized it was I used to think there I went to her. pain and its suite of horror people would be hardpressed to say there is evil.

empty, and then I didn't like it anymore.

was a lot of wasted talent, and now I think maybe not; imagine taking all the time to learn the script, or to write it in the first place, of something insipid. 9 pm and Liz still hasn't called. I can't stay here forever; nice room, $35 a day, bigger and cleaner than most of the second rate hotels, and the minimum price for anything is $35, but that is too much; in Tijuana I can probably get something for $7 or $8. "Hello." "Hello, Liz, this is Salvador." "I got your message; I didn't have time to call you back." Dial her number.

69 "That's okay." "Is June with you?" "No, we split up." "Oh, I'm sorry." "I'm over it." "What are you doing down here? "I've got a problem." "Like what?" "I got in trouble in Oregon. we get together? "I know. . . I'll explain then. "I'm working." Look, I can't stay here very long." "What about Saturday evening?" "What day is it today?" "Thursday." "Okay. Your place? I'm not into public places, and my room here is a bit austere." "Alright." "Address?" "2550 18th Street #3, it's off of Ocean Park Boulevard, #3 is on the second floor." "Thanks." "Hey Salvador, come for dinner, around six." "Thanks." . . . I was visiting this person and in this hotel lobby or This girl, some drugs. I need a little favor." Can Vacation? Job?"

school room.

The person leaves this other person in charge, I am worried He goes out on this Water and land are

like his girlfriend, and we leave in his car. something isn't right, I don't know what. forest ranger. meshed together. There's a river going by.

road, like in this bog; he's like checking the area like a He drives the car off the road and into the

mud, which is like soaked with water. The car rapidly sinks down

70 but I see that it has four wheel drive and then he backs it out. I look over and there coming towards us from town this car crashes into the mud and sinks in the water; then another at the same place; then this woman in a pickup is driving down the road and has stopped at this intersection. Water, like a wave, crashes over the cab; I see the wave washing over her head. Then back in the schoolroom, then I and this woman, it seems like but it isn't clear, are checking out of this hotel. We go out and maybe downstairs and then across this lobby, an old cheap hotel now, at one time luxurious; the lobby is spacious, old carpet and furniture groupings, walls are like a dull blood red. Then I remember we have to pay; I worry for a second that like we were here 3 nights, Monday, Tuesday and we'll be detained, I'm thinking what to say, like to get out rapidly, Wednesday, but then I realize that the people at the desk are just lackeys; when we get up to them the person says that will be $42.50, like he was expecting us. myself and think it isn't a bad price. . . . "Sure you don't want any wine?" "Don't drink." "You know what your problem is? "What?" "You don't love." Pause. "Love. . . what is love?" I think, you could count the times you've been to bed with a man and she says love. "Love of life, of people; you don't connect with people, you don't feel. You're like a ghost." "I think I feel." "You see, you're too intellectual." "But I do feel. . . after the fact." "You repress your feelings, you see." I calculate quickly to

71 I think, she's so neurotic. saying. It is chemistry." She invests her life in these "I see what you are

kids; she is safe; they don't threaten. "Chemistry, that's a good one."

"No, it's my chemistry; it's my life, everything slips away from me. It is in my dreams." "For me they are real." I "You're hopeless, dreams aren't life." I knew she would say that. guess you can't." "I do." "It doesn't seem like it." "Let's drop it, we always get in one of these discussions. . . You're never going to leave L.A. are you?" "I always thought you didn't really care about people.

"I guess not." "For a while there I thought you would; after you got your teaching license I thought you'd head out for better ground." "I thought about it. . . students." "A bunch of gangsters, no? then?" "Yes." I think, too hard to change. the spot; let it go. . . . Part II (Translated from Spanish) Finished two Dusty, I can "I understand." I don't need to put her on Didn't you tell me that back I don't know. . . I like my

Standing here, on the Avenida Revolución.

tacos al carbón (barbecued tacos) from a little stand. two stories. 7 pm, night is cooling, almost quiet.

dirty side streets, putas (whores), washed out façades, one and breathe; I can be what I am. Down a block off of la Calle 2a I

have a room, the Hotel Juárez, first floor, window on an alley;

72 the woman offered me a room on the street, more lively she said, but I said I needed something quiet. there. Had to beg Liz, had to I am out of promise that there was nothing I could do for Amy.

In a couple of days I could start looking for some kind

of work, a receptionist in a hotel, a barman, something where they need English and a decent appearance. I'm in this cafeteria in the back, or a place that deals with the production of food; there are large halls and large cooler doors, heavy duty counters. Maybe it's like I'm learning the job. I start remembering the dream when I have to go pish and decide to go on something in this long narrow sink thinking that it is garbage or it will be washed, but I think that one of the women there doesn't think this is cool at all. this hall and come to this room. like would be used in a dairy. there are two latches. I facilitate carrying it. I go down I pick up this container made I pick it up by the handle, and the position of them to

like a modern doctor's suitcase, but out of galvanized steel, change

There are compartments inside like in a I pick up one and start to go Maybe someone comes and says

doctor's case but no contents.

and then go back and get another.

I'm not doing it exactly right or maybe I just wonder if I am. Then I'm at this fair; I'm sitting on the first row of bleachers and I'm thinking about selling lemonade there. There are people vaguely around me that I seem to know, like family or friends. Then I am outside and I am thinking about setting up my lemonade stand there, like where people go by, but then I look up at the sky and think that later the sun will be shining right where I am thinking of being, so I think about being inside again. I come to this house, like I had moved out of it or had thought about moving into it; I'm going to go up and look at it; it's like a cabin in the hills; the terrain is like northern Mexico; I get up to it and I see a old VW bug in front of it. I'm a little disappointed because someone is there; I think it is this couple that I know, and that they must have got the

73 house. family, think I knock and someone opens the door, and there are quite and they she She seem Jewish speak or eastern so the I European. say parlez word I They vous don't

a few people there, older, younger, like an old world extended introduce me; one older woman mumbles something in French, and I that can't says English but français. something last

understand, like she turns away.

I ask her to repeat it, but

she is like going away acting like I don't really speak French. I am upset for a second and then decide that that was her way of getting out of talking with me, and that that way I don't have to talk with her. I ask to see the place or they decide to show me, all this stuff is newly moved in; it looks about done; the house is large and modern, not anything like the cabin appeared to be. like I see in this room there is a commode with all of this I say how I myself one and then I say and or picture to crystal on it, verroterie, goblets, figurines, etc. this,

Christmas; I have a box of verroterie, like at this party, and I am sitting on the floor and taking everything out of the box and I have it all spread around and then I worry about someone stepping on it. Then I am outside, like thinking about leaving, We come upon this pond, It is like an or someone is going to show me around. idealized pampas. a river.

something about a big tree that I can't remember.

Then the water is beautiful, down quite a It is very hot

ways across this rock, like turquoise and clear, like a pool in There are three or four boys swimming. and I would like to go, but I don't have sandals to go across the rock and I don't want to go barefoot. I look again at them I look at swimming there; it is so beautiful and it is so hot.

the rock to figure out the best way down; I am moving along; I get past this narrow part that I hadn't noticed, and just after I get past the rock falls by and I see that it had been held there by a wood barrier which has given way. have to repair it. I don't know why I am doing this; it seems senseless, I think now I'll

74 standing here on the sidewalk; move back out of the light, lean against the building wall. There was a girl, sixteen, short black hair, dressed in black, short skirt and black tights, a little ring in her eyebrow and her little nose, heavy mascara and red lipstick, soft ripe body. distrust by the sales people. stone from Africa. The first thing she said was that her mother when looking at jewelry was always treated with She shows off her large ruby ring but that doesn't help; even the amulet with a large costly green Her father's girlfriend is conservative she Old cars and trucks with Occasional note of ranch The one closest to They are says, long hair down her back. Smell of gasoline and exhaust. statue or photo of Jesus on the dash. music from a radio. noisy motors, curtain tassels across the top of the windshield, A dull white Chevrolet pickup pulls up.

These studs get out and start to unload it. from a cut or burn,

me has a long scar running down the back left side of his head, and long greasy black hair. arguing about what to take next. guy. with a The other guy moves something

and an old armchair slides and drops, which angers the first There's another armchair there and an old coffee table battered to top. a I man start out slowly front walking. There are The clubs, tempting clients.

entrances Paris.

sidewalk isn't crowded yet; later it will be like Pigalle in Affiches of the strippers and dancing girls, Gloria, Barbara, Rosa, long black hair and fiery eyes, Indian blood and tanned skin, pale and white, negligee and garters in red and black. The man watches me look at the poster of Rosa. "Hey man, her show starts in fifteen minutes." I look at him. "She's the best. "Another night." to do. You'll like her." I move on. "See you later." Nowhere to go, nothing

It is like time has stopped here. Escape to where you can.

They come here from towns, El Socorro, Soledad, San Felipe,

75 San Lusito, desperately trading off the sun, starry sky and Strip and

earthen floor.

This place délabré, pale and dirty.

swivel their hips, drag their sex across the stage, touching themselves; purse their lips, profile, eyes darting fire, dusty beauty, hunger, silk. A hooker sees me, coming towards me. silver belt. "Hello gringo." "Good evening, kitten." "You speak Spanish?" "So it seems." "Oh." "Come closer, let me see you." ". . ." "How old are you?" "Eighteen señor." "The girl is very pretty." "Thank you." "How much for the night?" "Fifty dollars." "Let me see if you are good." Bend over and kiss her. her skirt between her legs. "Thirty." "I am poor." . . . I wake in my room; thin walls letting in sounds around me, mid-morning light through the window. passes; it's a picture. . . An image passes, a woman, I remember now the a name, Rosa. She kisses back. She still kisses. My hand goes up She is wearing a lust over emptiness; in their gestures the force of of muscles contracting, controlled contortions, pulse

light, dancing for silver, cliquetis des bracelets, a piece of

"I'll give you twenty for the night."

76 club and the affiche. Then a blank. Think back. Nothing. It

is hard to say when something is missing. when I was coming to Los Angeles.

I think it started

I dreamt there was a remueI

ménage in one of the streets, a large boulevard, people in cars, lined up like for a parade or waiting to cross the border. I enter a black sedan somewhat down the line. felt almost like I was on some mission from school; at any rate Then I see these people like police at the front, and from behind another group comes, like they are looking for someone; the group coming from behind looks more menacing. unshouldered and ready. turn around and see a Then they know and they come up to Their rifles are Then I like an shirt, the car I am in and open the back doors. dark man in a white

I have put up my hands in fear.

official, and he gets out of the car and they take him away. Then as a denouement, sort of a way to wrap up the dream, I get out of the car and go to the group that was in front, like I was from them and I understand from one of them that I was lucky, that sometimes they keep them for hours or days as hostage. . . . Buy some books. taco, burrito. In the room reading. Go out to eat, a

The noises of the street are fading; the light

from the street lamps pulsates on the pavement, cars and passing figures; the sidewalk cement feels like a reef rasping the soles of my shoes; the walls of the buildings are like cliffs holding in the torrent of people like slaves fulfilling a plan. "This is the reality; you were living a dream. An old man, tanned, wrinkled face and silver hair appears before me: The air is thick with poison; look at these poor slobs, eyes red with fear and worry, mouths moving, gulping air, tortured, their arms flaying, backs twisted with the weight of years." his eyes take in the scene, "parasites, decay, oozing phlegm and bile. He waves his hand and islands of rot and His eyes

Try to remember."

pierce mine, he turns and walks away.

Scratched the surface,

77 the aesthetic patina. I say, you don't know everything; memory It is

is anguish, like sucking on an empty tit. I dreamt I was undercover, like with the military. time for me to get out. the edge of this field, like part of a compound. think how to get out, which way to go. be on my own. routes. It is late evening and dark; I am on I am trying to Tomorrow early in the

morning there is going to be some sort of pass, but then I would I think about leaving now and imagine alternative that I wouldn't get very far; I think I need Then a man is there, stocky and I think that out in the forest it would be nothing for

them to shoot me,

someone to come in to get me out, that I can't do it on my own, but they can't send anyone. weigh it in my hand. tough, a soldier, and he hands me a heavy automatic pistol; I We are talking; he is concerned about my I know him and he still has is perhaps why I hadn't leaving the next morning; after that it would be too late, but he doesn't think it would be safe. business to take care of which considered his help. now?

He says how about we do it now, how do you I say, like we take the car

feel about going for a drive now. otherwise.

Yes, I could probably get you further towards safety than I understand like to town or almost, and I think

again about going into the forest. I'm with two women, like we have been out on the town; now we are in this room, maybe five meters square. won't stay, like my girlfriend. other says she wants to smoke a joint. One leaves, she The It I is She goes out the door.

Now it's like she hasn't

left and she is smoking a joint, sitting on this couch. seems like another woman is there or maybe it is just me. have a really intense need to make love, and the woman smoking this joint, and then she's leaving. . . . I break away from the police and start running.

I say don't leave.

She has taken off her blouse and I go over to her.

My sister

78 is doing a job, a robbery, down the road about a mile. are telling me where it is, saying not a big job. a restaurant or donut shop, then finally I am

talking to someone as I am breaking away and running and they I understand a blue understand

restaurant that I see down the road on the right, sky blue with a tall steep roof. I keep running. The police are busy with a I look back diversion and right now I seem to be in an alley. she had helped me escape. will be clear. . . . While buying mangoes at the market my vision crosses that of a woman. Long black hair, pale white skin. Our vision meets on some middle ground. Black sun setting into molten earth. No end to the darkest night. Insides twist and burn like whipped flames. The rustle of dead leaves in the wind, singed, dry and dusty air. Lips, painted carmine, of raw flesh. Crimson weapons. I take a short acrid breath; She turns and disappears. Emptiness, a whispered name, Rosa, Rosalyn, Renata, forgotten as the wave of reality engulfs me again, clanking of carts and the hawker's screams, chants of a thousand voices. . . . I dreamt I was teaching this class on the second floor of an old wood building; it's a fairly large room and the windows depths. The eyes are naked black windows, fierce

and my sister is back there and she is running after me, like Then she has caught up with me and we

79 run all of one wall. remedial phrase. English class. I'm giving a spelling test, to like a Walking around reading the word or

The students, maybe all boys, are sitting around in There aren't very many, maybe ten. There I walk

every sort of manner.

is a group down the room and one student is wheezing a lot, like he is having an asthma attack, and he is also coughing. down that way as I give the words. smell. joint in his hand. I say no There is smoke, a sweet the other student is

The window is open and a student has about a half a wonder

coughing and they should put it out; not because of the smoke from the others but because every time it comes around to him he has to take a toke. I say come on put it out, and they throw it I turn to walk back towards I think oh I hope he doesn't look out the window without any problem.

the center of the room and the principal and two or three other people walk in the door I am heading towards. he doesn't smell it. know. I look for his eyes to say hello; He is an older man, reasonable as far as I Their group disperses like anything wrong. I

directly at me so I just say hello. I see no signs that they have

they are walking around looking at what the students are doing; perceived continue giving the words. hassle. I think that now the students will

listen to me for sure since I just saved them and I from a major I am noticing that the spelling list goes on and on, The officials I go down page after page, many different smaller tests added and pasted together, of different print formats and styles. seem to have left except one woman down past the door who is looking at these tapes on a sort of old raised stage. back I gather. problem. the test. there; she is going through them; they are hers from some time She mentions that she would like a copy of my I say sure, no spelling test some day, when I make a collation.

I walk back towards the students continuing to give Now there are quite a few short phrases instead of

just one word. In the dream, the darkness, anxiety spreads itself out,

80 dilutes; vague forms displace, take on more or less consistence, outlines substance, in a the rich ténèbres baroque filled in with grey dark grains of spectacle, dramatic figures

moving, staging against a moon-lit decor. I was driving, like on a long exhausting trip; I come to this large city, like after driving all day. I'm entering the city like in the industrial area; I'm not sure where I'm at; then I see a boulevard that I vaguely recognize or the direction seems right to me, that is it is going in the direction I think I need to go. I follow a lane branching off to the right in a I start to crescent and almost go through a red traffic light. I see a police car back over to the right.

go on through anyway because there isn't much traffic, but then I back up a little Then the when his car has moved and changed his angle of sight.

light changes; in front of me there are two or three large streets leading away in the same general direction; it is like the industrial area and they are going to the docks. area of Buenos Aires. road. At first the city seemed like Paris but now it rather seems like the port I go up this steep incline but the car is very weak and stops so I back down and take the other less steep Then I am getting out of the car and going into this I go up these stairs, that go one way and then There are naked place like a swimming pool; it is a very old cement building, like a bains. come to a landing and then go back in a zigzag.

boys and men, some together standing and sitting on the stairs, one boy plastered face first against the wall, a couple sitting on the landing, what looks like a girl, and then another with a man. Then I go past or hesitate or turn around. I am leaving The and key There's a blank. up I feel like I have bathed, and more I open it and get the key.

refreshed.

to the car is like in this bundled

handkerchief in my hand with change.

Then I am in the car and I have decided that I really need a rest and that the best place for me to go is to my parent's place, which is where I start to go. Then I arrive there and it

81 is like they were expecting me for dinner but I am significantly late; maybe they have saved something for me. out front when I arrive. . . . Reality is wrung out, dripping piece by piece in my hands. There is a long formula involved, and she is very pretty. is involved, all and resistance; the end of time, the Time of end It seems like a place out in the country; maybe there are guests taking it easy

sleeping and waking, the end of feeding and dreaming, all played out, over. Saintliness, pale cheek and long black hair; stretch my fingers to touch her beauty, brush away pain, the walls of oppression, when one can't move with the will, or feel. Without memory there is no time, or spiritual anguish. The formula, to turn the tables; everything held in place, puppet to master to absence, uncover the form and destroy it, strip it out. . . . I am in Paris, like I had just arrived; I am looking for a place to park and I don't find any, looking down the side roads and all of the meters have a car at them. looking for a spot along the street to carrying, I don't remember what. hand and I am walking. Antoine, corner Bastille. Then it is like I am put something I am

Then I have my shirt in my

I go into a cinema on Faubourg St. I am inside and I walk past the Then it is like a t-shirt

ticket window, unlatch the door and go outside. I've still got my shirt in my hand, and

I've gone into these living quarters annexed to the theater. wearing débardeur. I come upon a domestic who reluctantly takes me to

the woman of the house, who is middle-aged, chic and gentille. We sit down to talk and she asks the domestic to bring her her rolodex cards; the cards fall on the floor and I pick them up; they have names and addresses and the idea is that I'll be able to call on them and say I've come with this woman's

82 recommendation and be received in all these places. Then we're

sitting and she is looking at my camera, and I am saying it is too bad she can't see the pictures, and I am thinking of all the pictures in it, imagining them spread out on the table, things that I have seen, and especially of my wife. . . . Midnight. meters. didn't Get up, put on pants and a shirt, shoes; go out

of the room, down the long dim hallway, doors at every few There is a man and woman embraced against the wall; I see them. Outside, shapes passing, deadened sounds, Stop at the corner of this building; it's

brushing the nerves.

an alley, narrow; some of the street light reaches in; something white down against the wall; move closer, don't know what it is, looks like someone, back against the wall, legs outstretched in the dirt; looks like a man, his skin is glistening, long oily black hair, head down to one side; his fist seems clinched, there's a needle in his arm, drops of dried blood. papers; besides, he Can't tell up. I if he is breathing, can't do anything, they would want to see my might be dead; otherwise he'll wake Back to the corner of the street. A woman came up to me and asked me if I would like her. must seem a soft touch I thought, the way she hit on me. she was saying how she takes care of everything. how much and she really didn't turn me on. twenty dollars and I thought okay. didn't want to talk. thought she was very Indian, really too much so for my taste; I When I paused she must have thought it was inexperience or shyness, and I was thinking She would go for

On the way to my room she

Inside she dropped her skirt and took off

her blouse; she sat on the bed and told me to come over to her. She was saying let me take off your pants, how I was a dear and she really wanted to make it with me and I must be a real cat; her sugared hands working as she cooed a routine. Then I felt like she was condescending to me, maybe I only imagined it, like

83 I must be a loser to have to pay a whore to get laid, like I had hang-ups; and she wasn't turning me on and I was flaccid, and she started going on how not to worry these things happen and she could fix it, she'd just give it a little suck and it would be so good, and she started sucking and sometimes moaning like it was delightful; and I started slipping, I don't know what happened, anger; I must have hit her, she was holding her cheek and looking at me; I must have been saying stop it, stop it; her fear turned to pity in her eyes and she started talking again, like a wind up doll, like I was impotent and what did I really like, what really turned me on. names, telling her shut her vulgar; she kept on. she was just a bitch. I must have started to call her clap the bitch, cheap hooker,

I must have hit her again and said shut up Panic flashed across her face and she put I slapped She was

out her hands to protect herself and push me away. but I was between her legs and grabbed her hands.

them down and pushed her back on the bed; she tried to kick me thrashing around and I slapped her again, told her to lie still or she'd get a beating, ripped at her panties and jammed it in; she tried to squirm out from under me and then she started to scratch me; I must have grabbed her throat and pressed, said quiet, slut, or you'll wish you were dead; she stopped moving, her body heaving with breath, nostrils flaring, cheap perfume, sweat, alcohol; with the other hand I grabbed her ass and started pushing into her; took the back of her neck and started kissing her, saliva, sucking on her mouth, she was getting wet. I must have cummed, I remember vaguely sharp jerking. must be a blank. . . . It escape; endless seems the like an has of anxious dream from which there a is no There

center fans

disintegrated, black; nerves

nothingness, jaded to

thought

passes homeless, vectorless, flashes of light, rows of shadows, gray, inconsistency,

84 mindless, severed from the body which sends out vague signals of movement and sentiment. In a brief moment of apparent lucidity I start to question the possibility of. . . I recognize this room; the bedspread vaguely reminiscent of Indian craft, a wooden crucifix on the faded wall, bare linoleum floor worn through in places. intensity. I take it all in again, with Things are not what they seem, they can't be the way

I remember; like a nightmarish drug, always the same. Now the street, cars passing like demons, dried sweat on my skin, my hands and feet feel like they are caked with dust. Throat dry, thirst; bright light burning my eyes, reflected off of the mirrors of white, buildings, signs, cars, in jagged rays. People walking too fast; they are going to hurt each other, no, their bodies are impervious; they reflect the light or absorb it and then it harmlessly dies. battering, There breaking is no through it metal and machine. proof; is like nothing ever happened; depression is sucking in my mind, feeding it grotesque images, as though I were branded and then banished from reality, marked as alien, impure, twisted; but no one knows this; it is unconscious in a dark alley. I was teaching and had gone home for lunch. I smoked some I shit and it turned out to be very good, better than I thought; I must have spaced out because I got back to school very late. go into the office to sign in; the principal goes by and looks at his watch but doesn't say anything, like he doesn't know when I have my prep period, but like it seems to him I am out of the classroom at a very strange time. with. ask I go out thinking it is sort of a test, like I was always wondering what one could get away I am going to room 300 and I thought it was just down students and they say that it is in a completely this hallway but when I go down there it isn't there at all; I some different part of the school. Walking down the hallway I look A cacophonous rhythm is pounding, everything nevertheless, din of

85 at my watch and the last class is almost over. care of it themselves. I am out of school on a lunch hour and I am in this small city on the coast. I am going to go across the street to this Safeway to get something to eat but the street is very wide. Waiting to cross I overhear this woman saying that she wants some strawberry or blackberry jam, like for the holidays. rather exotic desire to fulfill. shop. I must not be in the north anymore because I think that this is a Then I am going into this The man at I ask him if he I ask if I can telephone home, long distance. I am wondering

if another teacher covered the class or if the students took

the counter is thinking I will call collect. calling card.

knows the code but he doesn't; I am thinking I really need a Then I am thinking there will be a lot of noise Somehow related, from the shop while I am talking on the phone.

the shop seems more like a Radio Shack than a Safeway and now I am looking for an alligator clip, like to make this connection. I am thinking I will have to order it special, but then this man says very routinely that they have various types down the aisle over there. Now I am thinking it is for smoking joints or he might think it is. It starts out at a house where I am living; this person comes to the door; I am doing something, like in the kitchen and they come in and say something like they need to use the phone book to find this place; finally I get to them to find out what the place is. They're saying it's supposed to be around here Then these people are coming in and I go out to get this I start to put and say some name like some restaurant; I think I recognize it to be a few blocks away. out of the house through different sliding glass doors, and they are like mingling in the back yard. movement stopped and going out through the door I see that the screen has come out of the its aluminum frame. it back in but then I see that it had been ripped some time ago, like when another person was living there, and they had started

86 to fix it with tape. I was trying to get it together, like when

one is trying to fix a broken zipper and getting the two sides aligned and meshed, and then I came to a place where it was just too badly ripped and there was this scotch like tape everywhere. I tried to use some of the old tape to get it back together and to hold until I could get some new tape and fix it properly; there was still a gap. Then it is like I am in this field. These people, like they are all part of the same family or village, are accusing me of something, and they are trying to grab me. It seems like mostly women, maybe all. I keep getting away or moving back to keep away from them. help them settle it. Then this man like

a pastor comes and they seem to be happy because now he will And the whole movement of them being after me and grabbing at me takes on a rhythm, like the rhythm takes over what is happening, and then it grows, like oscillating, and finally they all topple forward. break for it, to run. Then this woman, she is like crazy Mary, comes by and says now's the time for me to make a It seems like I vaguely recognize her from some time before, maybe she was the one that came into the house; I start to run and think about which way to go. . . . I remember thinking that starved the seething would stop like exhausted flames. Empty spaces without desire; then I am It is night; conscious and something is pressing and twisting. the passerby are smothered. across the floor, skin

it must be late; there is that chill that comes after midnight; A club where I have stopped, the muscles, breasts full and name in red light, The Night Cat, a poster of a woman stretched glistens, round, turning at the waist, silver g-string; it is signed Rosa. Something is pushing me; I nod at the half-asleep man at the door as I go in. Obscure, smoky, a passionate Mexican love song I hear a voice but I cannot in the background; only a few clients left; I sit at a small table to the right of the stage.

87 find the speaker, "The last show of the evening, the most

spectacular Rosa." remember.

Silence.

A slow beat, then accelerating to

mid-tempo, it must be flamenco; it has been so long and I can't Dark red satin dress spreading out, passes across my sight, comes back and stops, a beautiful hand, bejeweled, lifts the hem to mid-thigh, black stockings, tapered legs turning; the leg lifts, the hands sweep, the mouth laughs and the head is thrown back, trailing silken black hair. coquette, measured eyes of black It's her. She Walking as I look though she were in a chic salon or a shopping street in Madrid, velvet. stops; around, and see no one. She unbuttons the top of the dress and Slowly turning and the naked A sensation of soft

slides it down off of her shoulders slowly spinning to the music until she is bare to the waist. shoulders begin to oscillate, the arms floating forward almost inviting, loose, and her breasts trembling. cream, sensual. As though she were in her boudoir, intimately,

she takes her hair and slowly coils it up, in the rhythm, and then lets it fall and lifts her arms up over her head. Demitour, and her leg lifts like a ballerina, step, demi-tour and lifts again, her body falling, fading away. and slides into the splits, stretches She drops the dress the floor and across

arches over, and then comes around and hesitates, letting the music pass around her, then falling forward and splaying her hands on the wood. She looks at me and smiles, and then turns to the side, touching herself, caressing, lifting and teasing; she rolls over, turns, raises her head, the hair falling round, brushing the wood with her breasts, pelvis pressing at an angle then another. Street. shadows. A void is opening up inside me; I try to hold on Flickering lights, signs, lamps, reflections, Strike out, Try to something, something. "Gringo!" Pushing me, back in an alley.

catch a face, flesh and then bone. to run, pushed back.

"Knocking around Xochilt, Back to the

come from Argentina and think she's just a Mexican bitch." One has hit me in the kidney.

88 wall. fagot." will Three of them. "Scum." Swinging, hit in the stomach, "Leave our girls alone you Face head.

the mouth, the side of the head. in the dirt, blood in my mouth. you." Kicking "Snob." me. Kicking me. bastard."

Down, get up and run; kicked in the side; kneed. Curled up, arms around my

"Won't hit a Mexican girl again "Let's see if Let's split."

"You're fucked gringo." Slipping. "He's out."

he's got any cash."

"A few pesos, cheap

"You think he's dead?" "Who cares. . . "That'll teach him." we focus on a

"Fucker's bleeding good." of the western United

I am with a woman and we are looking at a large relief map States; river that is running through the middle of Arizona, a large blue line. we are there, this mountainous desert terrain. ominous. Then

We are in a

vehicle and we have stopped; there is a feeling of something We are on a dirt road alongside this ditch or creek I is The ochre red though it with a little water in it, which was the river on the map. think water is water, there's enough for life. mountains, the stream, it all seems beautiful pathetically desolate.

Then I see one bird high up off in the

distance, and I realize that it is the only bird there. I am going to pick up this old car; I had to have it towed and now I am going back to get it. city I have arrived in this big and I need to find a hotel first and then go get the car.

I need to cross this big avenue; there is a crossing up a ways and down a ways; I decide to go to the one down a ways; there waiting I see that there is a pedestrian passage that goes over the street with soot. between the two. The buildings are large and black I am thinking about the car. I I am at this hotel.

need this piece of plastic about a quarter inch thick to wedge in the carburetor to make it run otherwise it runs and then stops, and I am looking for a room where I could also find this. It is very hot and all the outside rooms have been taken. I go up one floor and down this hall; it is just wide enough for me to go through, very narrow and dark, like a passageway made of

89 plywood; doors for the rooms are one after the other; at the end of the passage a door opens on this dead end and there's a toilet toilet. cubicle in the back, only just large enough for the I am thinking I will have to take it because I need to I am worried that I won't be able to

get going and get the car. dark.

get it running and that I won't have enough time before it gets There is a group of us and we are out partying; we've decided to go someplace else. maybe a principal. There is an official with us, I am realizing that I drank too much and I

am thinking someone else should drive, but there isn't anyone except him and I am worrying that he will get in my car and see the little sachet of drugs in the front, but then I see that he is getting into another car. Then it seems like the whole group I've got on ahead I approach them; now Then I am in my I am thirsty, hasn't left at all but is starting to leave. and I start to go back and I hear arguing.

they are like strangers and they are arguing, maybe about where to go or what to do, and so I keep my distance. room; it is very small and like in a dormitory.

like I've been drinking, and I am drinking a big glass of water which is refreshing. the morning and that Then I am thinking about when I wake in someone will perceive that I've done Now they are like vague

something wrong, I'm not sure what. family members. . . .

After midnight Rosalía leaves her dressing room, goes down the hallway in the back of the nightclub, and out the side door into the alley. In the dim light she hardly notices the dark For some reason she slows, An unconscious man, She hesitates, The mass stretched out on the ground.

something stops her to look at the shape. thinks, and then says, "Hey. . .

from his appearance not an addict or a gangster.

Can you hear me? . ."

man's hand twitches, there's a short groan, cut off.

90 "I'm going to get help, okay?" "No!" "You're hurt." "No, don't!" He rolls over a little. happened?" There is a pause as the man reflects, visibly in pain. don't know." "Can you sit up?" "I don't know." She decides that he isn't threatening and moves to help him. The man sees her face as it comes out of the shadows. "Rosalía." and blood. In vague recognition he mumbles, "Rosa." His face is cut and bruised, covered with dirt "You need Where do you live?" She helps him lean against the wall. "I She steps back. She asks, "What

help; you can't stay here. . . "A hotel." "Where?" "Around here. . . "Juárez, I know it. . . . Suárez?"

Do you think you can get up?"

I was at this soirée; then I decided to leave; it was late at night and other people were coming in from walks. upon a campsite, a trailer; the women were all taken. another trailer behind it and went around towards it. I came I saw I saw two

women talking and one that looked nice, a fresh cotton skirt and blouse. When I went by them she took her leave of the other and was walking alongside me for a second. lightly around the waist. walking and we went on together. She helps him walk; in front of the hotel he virtually collapses. They stop at the desk and she gets the key. The woman at the desk says, "What happened? It's been a couple of I let my arm brush her She came nearer to me as we were

91 days since he's been in. I thought maybe he wouldn't be back." They go She gets a towel and He has passed out

He falls forward going up the stairs; she helps him up. into the room and she puts him on the bed. goes down the hall, wets it and returns. again. hands.

She cleans most of the dirt and blood from his face and It is about three in the morning; she leaves, taking the

key with her down to the desk where she leaves it, saying she will be back later. In suspension over an abyss, a bridge of granite blocks in a sweeping arc of pillars and cables stretched between rocky mountainsides of a lost or forgotten architecture. Below, the dark flow of water, in the glass and swirls the black reflection of a starless sky; slow surge of voluminous liquid in an almost imperceptible sliding and rolling of murky backwash along the shore. Further on the river feeds into the endless expanse of ocean, and beyond the horizon water and air blend seamlessly. The bridge a vague shadow, ridges a charcoal trace over the black mirror fading into the massive deep. It seems like a scene from the north, on the coast. "Rosa?" "Yes." "What are you doing here?" "I said I was coming back." "Why?" "Because." "But why. . . "You need help. "Why help me?" "I don't know, for some reason it feels right. . . does anyone do anything?" "I can't stay here. Rosa, this room is bad, bad memories. Come stay with me, there's a I need to go to another room." "I know; this is a cesspool. Why Leave me alone." You're wasting away." Maybe it was a vision, of a cross with footing in the sea of eternity.

92 taxi, for a few days, until you get better. things." . . . "Come on, here, I'll help you get up." . . . "Where to lady?" "La calle 12, 1374." . . . They're house. her. after us. We've gone into this dark old wood I'll get your

I go down the hall, I'm getting away. They're going to follow her.

Somehow she goes I need to get to

up the stairs.

Then I'm with her and she has fallen and she's all scraped

up, her knee and hip and cheek; I'm looking at her; I need to get her out of here. "We're here. so weak. Another place. struggle. aligned: Would you like to sit at the table? Maybe you should lie down." There are coins on the table; Dispersed in a pattern of But wait, they are Other walls. You're Are you in pain?

they must have meaning.

What is it?

Dead end, dead end, no way out.

chance could conceivably affect me in an endless flow, No, it means deception. Oh yes, I can sense it.

but it is impossible to lift it out of the dirt imbedded, and slowly dying. I need to stay calm. I remember they were taking me to the

hospital; I was lying on the back seat; they were talking about me and they must have thought that I couldn't understand them. Then I became too excited and they injected thorazine in my thigh, but that was later. passion. What is going on? The cube of stone, that is the Rosa isn't alone here, she can't The

be, it doesn't make sense; there's another woman, or girl. seductress. no, no. They want me to be calm, that's what they want.

I'm not ready for this; it is all out of balance, God, his eyes are glass."

"Maybe you should lie down. . .

93 No, no, I'll find the answer. I can't give up. It is war, I know too

beneath, or overhead, but no one knows; I'll stall. much so they are going to sacrifice me. to make sure. behind it. transparent. Scorn, murder.

They are just waiting

I have a mask and they can't see It might be

But what if there is a pattern and they trace it What if my mask is obvious? I need to see like they see, be a mirror, enter

back to the source. their reflection.

She is pulling me to the bed. "You're safe now. . . "Yes. "Yes." "Don't worry; I'll be here." She is kissing me. . . . I'm lying on the floor next to the stereo; it is late at night and I'm supposed to be sleeping. sleeping. I am trying to prove I've turned on the to myself or to stereo very quiet and I am listening to it at the same time I am something someone else that there is really music or that I can listen to it or that it is in my sleep. this person standing over me. Just when I seem to be satisfied He seems to be my father, like he Then I am I sense a presence there, a dark shape; I've grabbed the foot of had heard the music and has come in to see what I am doing, probably not to scold me but to see if I am alright. teaching this class; it feels like it is in French in Paris, like to lyceen age students, but I'm teaching it like college, that is I am explaining some verses of poetry and my explanation has taken them all to understand their sublimity, that the meaning of this poet is not something that can be said, that these four lines mean such or such and the next four lines It's over." Can I sleep?" Is your Oh, here they are. . . "I need some valiums, I need to sleep. Where are they?

name Salvador, I see it written on this envelope."

94 something the piece else, of but that in often one word holds most of the in

meaning, and maybe that it is like a note in music. paper

I look at

my hand and there isn't the poem

stanzas but rather this notation spaced around the page and that has a meaning; I notice marks that look like French accents and especially the accent circonflex. About when I finish my exposition the class is over and everyone crowds out and I need to get my things, books and notebooks, up off of the floor as they are going by. with the class. understand. Then I am with colleagues and I seem content It seems like I had asked to teach it, not for I was lecturing I felt that they were

money but to see if something was possible, like if they could While following my thought and feeling, and it was like I was proving this to myself or to someone else. I am walking with someone up this road alongside this stream and everything is silver; it is like a story of fantasy; everything, the ground, road and stream are like sprayed with silver, like otherworldly. We go a long ways, go around this I think corner and see a very long stretch going up this hill.

it isn't that steep, about 30 degrees; after that we go around some bends with the stream right by the road; it looks like it would be nice to swim in, the currents and pools, but the liquid is an opaque silver and I wonder if it would be safe. Further along there is ground water coming down this hillside we are moving up and I touch it and it is cold; maybe that it is frosted. One has to be careful because there are dangers, some We arrive at a sort of make-shift road The other person is taking care of business. little known by me. house at the top.

I look across this sort of courtyard inside and see this man with dark hair and eyes looking at me from inside a room and I try to make a vague gesture of peace. Then I notice this small creature on the ground, a couple of shades of bright red, and I start to smash it with the toe of my boot; it flies up and then I catch it under my boot again; it is very elusive and

95 resistant; it is very much like a scorpion and I understand that the idea is to separate it in two or otherwise it is still dangerous, which I eventually manage to do with my feet. . . . I awake before dawn. very quiet. armchair, to Some light comes in through windows;

they must look onto an inner court because one is open and it is There is the table across the room, to one side a the other side a passage to what must be the sofa covered in a chintz of tropical floraison and a matching kitchen and bathroom. chest; I turn over and I don't see Rosalía. And it seems like I She must have made love to me, voluptuous. have returned to my body after a long I am in a large soft bed. I remember

long black hair brushing across my face, breasts touching my

absence, brought back in; that presence which seems to be the touchstone of my being, the structural pattern of divagations. Falling back asleep. I am going down these stairs in this big old house; at each flight I am looking to see if I'll be able to stop but each time the people there, maybe children, are tough and mean and so I don't stop. I get to the ground floor or basement and not Then I am outside; there's a I've crossed one seeing anyone I enter a hallway.

river, in some places deep and others shallow.

part and now I'm running in this open field with water which is cold, and I'm getting my feet wet; it's only a couple of inches deep, part of the river I am going up. Then I see that I am I am still I completely on the other side and I look across and vaguely see or sense the other people, like from the house. walking up stream and have almost arrived where I want to go.

take in the traverse; the river is quite branched out from what I see, and I see that I'll probably have to ford some deeper water to get back, but I think I can take off my shoes and if I pick my spots it won't be that deep. Then it is like I wave at

96 everyone who has now come outside or anyway I know that they see me and are trying to figure out how to get across to where I'm at, but I don't think they can. . . . Waking. room; there Morning, sunlight, fresh air from the window. is an adolescent girl sitting in the The

armchair,

reading; white shirt and beige pants, simple, cotton, barefoot; black hair and lashes, long and fine; tall, thin, legs extended, draped with ease; olive complexion and an oval face, features sharp and gentle. She is reading calmly, contemplatively, quietly. She looks at me and then looks away. She said you would be staying

"Mother should be home soon. I should get you breakfast." She looks at me. "My name is Teresa." "Mine is Salvador." "I know, mother told me. supple and light. "That's my

with us for a while, that you were a friend, that when you woke

I'll show you the bathroom."

She sets the book on the floor and stands up, effortlessly, I follow her into the hall. room and here's the bathroom. If you need

anything let me know." "Thank you." In the mirror. least. How many days this beard, four or five at A cut in the corner of my eye, bruised; a scrape on the A border town.

opposite cheek, swollen; a cut lip; bump and bruise on my thigh, more on an upper arm, ribs, back of the head. There's no future for me, or for anyone. saintly, ethereal; it must be my imagination. . . . Rosalía said her husband left their village and went across the border to look for work. She came here to wait for him, and Teresa; she appears Shower, shave.

97 then he never called or wrote. . . . There on the floor is the book that Teresa was reading. Pick it up. For a moment I thought I felt a shock or a burn and Quevedo's sonnets. )Nadie me responde? almost dropped it. That was a couple of years ago,

and now she is waiting for a chance to cross herself.

*(Ah de la vida!+ . . . "Ah, of life!" . . .

No one answers me?

(Aquí de los antaños que he vivido! Here, of the past ages that I have lived! La Fortuna mis tiempos ha mordido; Fortune my time has bitten; las Horas mi locura las esconde. the Hours my madness has hidden. . . . (Fue sueño ayer; mañana será tierra! It was a dream yesterday; tomorrow it will be earth! (Poco antes, nada; y poco después, humo! A little before, nothing; and a little after, smoke! (Y destino ambiciones, y presumo And I destine ambitions, and presume apenas punto al cerco que me cierra! hardly an instant in the enclosure that surrounds me! . . .

98

Perdí, con el desprecio y la pobreza, I lost, with the contempt and the poverty, la paz y el ocio; el sueño, amedrentado, the peace and the leisure; the dream, in fear, se fue en esclavitud de la riqueza. went away in slavery to riches. Quedé en poder del oro y del cuidado, I was left with the power of the gold and the cares, sin ver cuán liberal Naturaleza without seeing that a liberal Nature da lo que basta al seso no turbado. gives what is necessary to the unperturbed mind. . . . Vivir es caminar breve jornada, To live is to walk a brief day, y muerte viva es, Lico, nuestra vida, and living death is, Lico, our life, ayer al frágil cuerpo amanecida, yesterday to the fragil body waking, cada instante en el cuerpo sepultada. each instant in the sepultured body. Nada que, siendo, es poco, y será nada Nothing that, being, is little, and will be nothing

99

en poco tiempo, que ambiciosa olvida; in little time, that ambitious forgets; pues, de la vanidad mal persuadida, that, of the vanity badly persuaded, anhela duración, tierra animada. seeks duration, a lively earth. Llevada de engañoso pensamiento Carried away with the deceiving thought y de esperanza burladora y ciega, and with blind and mocking hope, tropezará en el mismo monumento. it will stumble on the same monument. Como el que, divertido, el mar navega, Like he who, diverted, the ocean navegates, y, sin moverse, vuela con el viento, and, without moving, sails with the wind, y antes que piense en acercarse, llega. and before he thinks of being near, arrives. . . .

While conquistadores were searching the new world for gold, Quevedo quietly engraved his thoughts at the court, navigating an inner world. Now that all of the riches have been carried away his thought has meaning here.

100 . . . Dearest Sister, I am in Tijuana, having escaped from the North, and for the time being free. trying to put Don't worry. things in A woman has taken me in. I will write again I am soon. order.

Thinking of you always.

Love, Salvador. The saints are angels the

Rosalía is dancing and Teresa is sleeping. Incorporeal, roaming Eternal desireless, or roving; a not even

whispering promises of immortality, but I can't believe them. androgynous away aimlessly, ecstasy seeking dark corner from

luminescence in which to sleep or perhaps to ultimately die. would seem a figment of a fiery imagination rooted in a miasma of hunger and infinite silent night. . . . To Teresa (A sonnet)

In this crowded room of what would have been An ocean of clouds that swirls the vision Shadows of incense a past profusion Dreams pale light to the figurants given. Turning in her eyes reflections hidden The dust of the earth seeking conclusion In rich images silver in fusion, Baroque the anguish the death arisen. Statuettes amid storms and colored urns She closes her eyes with silken lashes In seduction tormenting the robes wild. Like the red light from lamps the fever burns

101 Within the veins, cathedrals in ashes, The race of those spheres no longer a child. March 22, 1995 . . . I've left this class and am walking around the halls like in a high school. The class was stupid or I didn't have anything to do or had finished what I needed to do. I end up Other

sitting in this chair in the hallway outside a door; the chair has a little bit of cushion like an old leather chair. students are mulling around. frolicsome, lively, Then this girl comes around very

casually teasing or touching the boys. I

She ends up coming over and sitting next to me; she is smoking a cigarette and almost burns me when she turns to talk to me. pretty. think she's not that great but then up close I see that she is Then we are sliding down and kissing like we have a blanket over us and I'm hoping I won't get in trouble and her hands start moving around touching me. I wake, early morning; the cream colored curtains have been closed. I see a pile of clothes on the old wooden piano bench I turn and see Rosalía; she came then; sleeping quietly like a Rosalía next to the bed and against the wall, black bra and panties, an evening dress of black crêpe. home some time last night feline. . . . . . She said she loves to dance; it is her pleasure; after she came here she wasn't making enough money as a waitress, couldn't find anything else; even if she made enough money as a waitress she wouldn't stop; and even going out with individuals was amusing; besides she couldn't stop any of it even if she wanted to, because she needs the money. I asked her, and then she said

Later I hear Teresa moving around. . .

opens her eyes and sees me looking at her.

102 don't worry about it. came out; breakfast. . . . To Rosalía Into the woman that gathered my rests, Curled on the white sheets a shape that would sear, Contours of limbs, arabesques of désir, Her waist twists and exposes lovely breasts. Dreaming in her eyes of jet, vast forests Sensual, and stretch my hands to a sheer Gauze, a haze where a roundness might appear And nipples erect the female divests Again faint allusive virginity. The sex coming to me beautiful flesh, Watery dawn, light, moving the pelvis. Sliding slowly around infinity, Falling in our arms that may all enmesh The dance in silence, and absorb the kiss. March 25, 1995 . . . I dreamt we were all around an amphitheater; adolescents and we had taken very heavy doses of psychedelics. There were At one lights and music, like we had control at our fingertips. hid myself or buried myself away. She said I was looking better, and must We got up; Teresa She said Saturday she does her shopping

be feeling better by the way we made love. and left for a couple of hours.

point I became overwhelmed, like I had taken way too much, and I There were platforms and

103 stages set up around the area where people were. the way a friend was calling me out. From across

I was very surprised, and I am looking at him

I didn't want to fight him and I didn't understand why he would want to fight me; we were on good terms. standing there making aggressive gestures, and he isn't tough, it isn't that I could be scared of him and we were very good friends. Then he wanted to listen to my music, like a fancy walkman, with attached psychedelic paraphernalia, like a trip in itself, but that might have just been a pretext to get to me; and the others were in a very hostile mood. I couldn't decide what to do; it was like fight him or leave a coward and there was no place to go. of a boy beside her. me help you come down. brother before. Then his sister is next to me, a presence She is tall, light brown hair, a snake She is saying let She was with her I question this to myself, like what is

skin like dress, long and molding her body. she going to do, is this some treachery?

But then she slides around with her body and

says now, and the presence there reaches a vague hand to a zipper on her shoulder and motions as if to start unzipping it to show me what she has in mind; at the same time as she is looking at me and saying come on, come on, and then I realize that she is inviting me to go with her, now and not later, and it is not a trick at all and so I start to go off with her. When I wake and reflect on the dream I think that maybe I had imagined all of the hostility, like I was having a bad trip. The place was like this amphitheater on the top of the Pão de Açucar in Rio de Janeiro where I had once been to see Kid Abelha, a pop music group; a large round area where there was plenty of room to dance and steps going up around the sides; the group was on a stage set up at a point on the circumference. . . . A few days later at dinner, Rosalía, Teresa and Salvador at the table. Rosalía asks,

104 "You are from Argentina right; that is what I decided but it isn't clear; but your accent isn't exactly Argentinean, and why would an Argentinean come to Tijuana?" "I was born in Argentina but my family had to leave when I was eighteen." Teresa asks, "Why did you leave?" "Problems with the government, back when it was military; there was a lot of political oppression. left." Rosalía asks, "You can go back now, can't you?" "Maybe. States." "So why are you in Tijuana? that alley?" "It's a long story. with all the propaganda I had to leave the United States; they You know they are that they put out to say found out about the political problems in Argentina. Why were you unconscious in My parents returned. I was living in the United It was especially because of my father who was an active figure in the political

enlightened and liberal, they aren't really; still carrying on the witch hunt same as ever. papers not being in order. They invented some stuff about my A friend let me know that they were

on my trail; I had to leave as quickly as possible." Teresa exclaims, "My God, that is terrible." "Yes. "The I barely got away in time." problem is that when the government went after my Rosalía says, "Now you could go back to Argentina." father they accused me of terrorism. be less able to defend himself." "You could get a lawyer and he could clear it up." "I don't know." "Anyway, you can stay here, get a job." "But I don't have any papers, and I am wanted by the United States. As soon as my name appears somewhere they will be after They wanted to make the

case cut and dried, and they thought that a young student would

105 me. Otherwise I could publish my writings, but I can't." "I will see, I have some friends, sort of, with

connections." "It wouldn't be very safe; you can't trust anyone, even now." Rosalía asks, "Who beat you up? with politics, was it?" "I don't know why, three thugs, said I was a gringo. robbed me." There is a pause and then Rosalía says, "I knew you were from Argentina, you can tell from your manner; they say that Argentineans are arrogant." "Arrogant?" Teresa adds, "It's true that is what they say, but I don't know what they mean exactly." Rosalía continues, "Yes, sort of snob, presumptuous." "Maybe so, maybe I was raised that way. . . Mexicans perceive as arrogance?" Teresa says, thinking, "Not snob or rude; you can tell that he isn't that. so." Rosalía asks, "You were in France?" "When I left Argentina I went there to go to school." Teresa adds, "That must have been exciting." "I was very troubled. everyone seems to think." Rosalía says, thinking, "Still, to live in Paris. . . you speak French and English. . . for you to go to Paris and then the United States." "My parents had some that they had saved up. Anyway they lost everything in exile." My father's organization helped out; they could hardly let us go to prison. So Your family must have money Paris is not fun and romantic like Maybe your interpretation is right, Salvador." "People say that the French are snobs, and I didn't think Could it be an attitude of assurance, I don't know, of a certain power, that They It wasn't something to do

106 There is a pause and then Teresa asks, "You are writing something aren't you; I saw you writing." "Just a sonnet." "Will you let us see?" "Maybe afraid that later, it after I've written some more, if I write I'm You fall into the wrong hands. . . more; this is the first thing I've written in a long time. could probably wouldn't like it." . . . I'm with this girl, a friend that has come to visit. are sitting on the living room floor talking. We

I like her a lot

and it is like her last night and then she is going to leave. While we are talking I approach my mouth to hers; I sense a moment of hesitation; she doesn't move away. I stop talking and Then start kissing her lightly; she still doesn't move away.

there is like a subtle change of scene, almost like a different dream, like now I am with this woman and at certain intervals we have to stop our lovemaking for some time and then we can renew it, and I picture these couples dancing and when they come into this certain area they stop until they pass through it. the scene goes back to this girl and I. notice the bones of her pelvis. have never made love. Then At first I thought she

was this friend with a full body but now she is very skinny, I This doesn't bother me, I just I am She notice, and for a while have thoughts of the other, with whom I We are rolling on the floor. surprised that she is letting this happen. During a pause she

asks if wouldn't it be better if we went in on the bed. could but my wife is sleeping and she probably

asks as if she doesn't know and when I answer and say yes we wouldn't She her appreciate it; I say it like she has simply forgotten. resume blouse. our lovemaking. I am kissing her while I undo

shrugs it off like oh, it is probably nicer here anyway, and we I think about when we end up naked and that she could

107 come out there but then I think she wouldn't. . . . Sitting in this café; away from the apartment; I know what they want. Impossible to lose myself in the passer-by, It comes everything and everyone reminding me of stark reality. back to me no matter what I do to avoid it. On reflection it

seems like the living room was like the one in Eugene.

I don't know why I

seem to be the focus of the debacle, coming through my eyes, shaking my nerves, the realizations sending shocks into my body. I haven't gone far enough; the slow decline of the American Imperium should be accompanied by some meaning; on the contrary, the all-leveling discourse is more dominant than ever, liberty, equality, culture. time: fraternity, mashing out the differences, popular America is the last one to fall, already on borrowed Insipid death, no style, no glory; I know where it is Run while I can.

the end of progress.

dull, blunted hostility beneath the surface. going and I can't put it out of my mind. . . .

I've moved into this house; I come home late, like I'd been working or out drinking. tiling. In the entry there is this stuff, like I have on a robe and I am from moving, that I hardly notice, some boxes of flooring or Then there's a blank. opening up the door again to get the mail; there are a couple of things for me, a large manila envelope, a letter, and like a cassette, probably with a computer disc. There is also a couple of large envelopes with very strange addressees, like they've been sent to the wrong address but the name is very strange, like from a country I don't recognize. and start arranging the mess in the I set them on the floor entry; now I see more Then Jewish

clearly that the painter or plasterer has really made a mess of the carpet, white smeared in, especially around the boxes. I go into my roommate's room, a friend, like a

108 intellectual, from Buenos Aires. I was going to do something

but when I get in there I see he is sleeping; it is very dark and I try to find the light switch of this little lamp that he has on this dresser by the door. another person in the bed. about thirty, blond. It looks like there might be Then this girl is there, I can't remember what I was going to

do, maybe just see if he was alright.

She is telling me that I brought her home

with me or I understand this, like I ran into her in this club. She is naked or her dress or bath robe has opened up, a firm body, not too curvaceous but alright; I notice her breasts and stomach. After a moment I say to remind me of her name, deciding that it would be better to know in case it comes up. She says Diane. She reminds me of a girl I knew in Los Angeles, She says no, her hair was more curled, and We are going to sit down at this Another roommate has She and I She I I ask, is she her?

she turns her head showing me hers, which is almost straight, very full, shoulder length. table and have a cigarette or a drink.

arrived, a ballerina from England that I met in Eugene.

maybe some friend of hers are bringing in some of her things. the entry hall that has been more or less cleaned up now. comes by and gives me a kiss. us three living together, everyone's friends coming by.

look across the room and notice how big it is, and I see her in I think this is going to be nice Then I notice that

remember my correspondence and go to get it. Diane has left.

At first I don't think much of it, like it's

not a big deal, but then I decide that I liked her a bit, and that I had neglected to ask her for her telephone number, like I hadn't shown enough interest in her and so she left. Then she is there again, like she had just stepped out for something, but she has brought some friends and left them there while she has run off. I see her down the road; somehow I am able to do this though I am inside; and in the distance I see she is with this boy, standing together, like lovers; it is raining. And she has left her friends, these men or something, with whom I don't want

109 to deal with. Then there is some cold air, a wet wind, and I It

look up and see that some panels are open in the glass roof. getting terrain. a ladder. Then I am outside, an isolated

is beautiful, but a couple of panels are open; I think about desert It is like one wall of the house is earth. I have to

climb up this dirt to get to the roof; there is a small cliff, just a few feet high; I walk down a bit and there it is lower and I step up. glass roof. Now I am on a plateau where there is also the I remember a scene up here with a couple of dead

animals, like rabbits, on the ground; now they're not here but someone has broken a couple of green sauterne wine bottles, and for a moment I feel angry that someone is already messing it up. I am walking over to the glass roof; it is covered with mud and I can't see the opening. Still approaching, suddenly I realize that I am walking on the glass; it is not very solid; I throw myself out flat on it and look again for the opening which I don't see. . . . In a café. Dust Which like a stellar array often sought, Fine jewels in the dark the spirit famish, Arid solitude burning to perish, Covers the walls of the city distraught. These sequins on the dress of the harlot, She in a deaf revolt, cornered, garish, Like the rest of the crowd, eyes that tarnish, And wait out dim projects with each their lot. Like wasted virus sublime grains infest It never becomes clear where the house is.

110 Provisional structures fashioned of dirt, Dull colors crumble in dry air; tacit Ententes have become decadent incest. The hands that design the mystical flirt Thin waifs the alleys of symbols surfeit. March 31, 1995 . . . I've come to this school escorted by someone; we are To

inside; it is all cement and very massive, halls and rooms. get to this room we have to pass through this other.

There

isn't anyone around, totally bare; then we have to wait; there's a couch there and a young girl is reclining; she is dark, about ten years old, third world, with a dress that is practically rags. her. I am supposed to sit by her I understand from my companion or my companion is in complicity when I sit next to She leans against me; she has a faint bitter smell like I lightly caress her chest or she hasn't washed for a while. begin to feel moved.

stomach almost absent-mindedly like to console her but then I I see her naked pubis; there is a strip of cloth around her waist with a spot of red that I imagine is from a menstruation but then I see a small cut on her lower stomach. Then I am going across a border; it is the same sort of cement, unpainted and porous; we are walking and now I am going through this checkpoint. There is a military type who is checking me. I sense that I am speaking Spanish with him, just things like nice day, etc., but usually no one talks to him so he likes it. goes easier that way. ferry. where this could be considered as fraternizing with the enemy but it Then I am walking; I need to get on this As a friendly gesture the guard has followed along and cars would normally go. There is no one around. I

he shows me where to go up this ramp over to one side, like

111 understand that they have been waiting hours, perhaps days to go across. there. Then I enter this house, a small living room; no one I hear voices in the other room. The room is bare,

third world, clay floor and rough plaster walls; it is almost like a rebels' hideout. comrades in the cause. I go into the other room; a man is These people are a family or sitting at the table writing.

I talk to him but he is nervous and gets

upset because I am too loud and might wake some others sleeping, but I don't remember anyone sleeping in the other room and even if there was I wasn't that loud. Then this woman comes in and I understand that I am supposed to be writing a letter to others in the movement, like these three brothers or sisters, like a letter of condolences or just something to bolster their spirits, like they've just lost someone dear or they've been incarcerated. . . . It is late evening; I am writing on the bed. up and held with a porcelain comb. She has Teresa is her

sitting on the sofa, a light blue cotton robe, her hair pulled finished homework and is reading a romance novel, one like those that are found in the magazine stands. like the meaning of a word. El Drama At war with the heavens the form's intent. Upon the dark-lit scene the comet's fall Etched on the player's masks of mineral, The chorus murmurs of occult portent. Beneath flowing costumes the tare latent, Red satin, purple silk, ethereal Only occasionally do we speak, when she might ask me a question about her literature class, The sonnet is finished.

112 Lures and perfumes, the myth corporeal, Rites of passage abysmally silent. Therein the anguish; a single victim With brazen eyes and twisting hands would dare The vision of future devastation. Past wounded lips the rage of breath a whim, A floral logic, a smothered nightmare, A slow venom in the varnished fiction. April 3, 1995 I take it over to Teresa. matter, some of the The other evening she read Dust; she seemed too difficult to try to

said she wasn't sure if she understood it and I said it didn't meaning explain. She reads El Drama and I go back over to the bed. Finally she says she likes it; she says that it has a resonance that she hadn't noticed so much in Dust. . . . I am driving an old pickup and I have my mother and father with me; it is like we are returning home from an outing. that it is a wedding. We see a group of people, almost like through a window and we see I recognize the people from the past, like from my father's business, but I don't know the young groom and just barely recognize the bride from another place, like he has come since I've been away and I remember her from when she was much younger. than I. My parents don't seem to know them any better I am thinking I would have liked to visit with them and Now I have gone

then I think we might join them at the reception, which for some reason I am thinking will be at my parents. down off of the road to the right, like a short cut or maybe the road is this way; the road is hardly more than a trail but it

113 doesn't seem to bother me. The way is along this river. I

drive under this bridge perpendicular to my path. river on the mountainside.

Now I am

noticing that the road isn't very good; it is on the edge of the Then there is another bridge and the I give the truck gas and go on I come out, clearance is very close and it looks almost washed out, like with wood strewn in the way. through it. Then it seems like I have stopped and gotten out

and gone ahead on foot to check out the terrain.

like from beneath a bridge and I see this water coming down the mountain in front of me; it is a very large cascade, somewhat muddy, like it has flooded. one about half the size. I look back and there is another I look at the water I I wonder where all the water came from

because I can't remember it raining lately.

flowing past and decide that it is impassible even on foot. and go up but I don't see where it does. like that anyway. . . . Just before dawn Rosalía wakes me. curtain slightly. blue, she comes over on top of me.

look back and up thinking that maybe the road must double back I resolve to go it

She has opened the

Still wearing her dress, like silk and dark Her make-up is heavier than She

I have seen, mascara a shade of blue, dark red lipstick. nervous; she is crying. wet.

says take me, take me, and puts me inside her; she is very I think she must have taken cocaine. Her skin is glistening with sweat; inside she is very hot and She is moving frantically, almost hysterical; she starts I pull her down to me, embracing her; she has an She starts moving again slowly; I caress her, the thin She is quieter now and She starts kissing sobbing. orgasm.

fabric sliding on her hips, her breasts. me very deeply, almost hard.

pauses for long moments, almost shivering.

I don't know if she is impervious With her pelvis she is

to me or not; she is very guarded; I don't know how conscious she is of the effect she has on me.

114 holding me firmly and profoundly, oscillating very slowly. pass into another world. I up, ate haven't got up from gone the off to bed. Rosalía is moving took a distractedly around the apartment. breakfast and Teresa has already gotten school. Rosalía We

shower, spent a long time in the bathroom; came out wearing a long white T-shirt and her hair wet and went into the kitchen and made nervous noises and shortly came out with a cup of coffee which she drank at the table; she went back into the kitchen and must have been putting things in order, though Teresa usually takes care of that in the evening. came over anxiously and sat on the bed. time to take everything where it is Finally she

We hardly speak to each going, if it is going She to

other, neither of us having much to say; sort of waiting for anywhere. She starts talking, hardly more than mumbling, not She is going to time

wishing to expose herself but unable to keep everything in. is more beautiful troubled and almost vulnerable. on about the nights, looking at me from time

communicate that I really shouldn't pay too much attention to her ravings. I must be lonely. . . she needs an income. . . this town no family. . . Things would work Even Teresa needs security. . . trapped. men are so heartless. . .

is a sewer. . . everyone is using you. . . with light caresses I try to reassure her.

I move over next to her and put my hand on her thigh;

out, we would figure a way out, she was just coming down.

though I know that it is more than that, the cocaine is just the last step in the process, the outward sign of something deeper. But what can I say, I can't make promises she knows I can't fulfill, I can't say my papers are getting straightened out, my writing is going to be published, I've got an interview with a nice private school to teach English and French, nothing. she is beautiful, I love her, she saved my life. her caresses and kisses. I say She starts

crying again quietly; I sit up and hold her, hesitantly giving After a while she begins to respond,

115 she kisses me back; we slowly become aroused; I pull off her Tshirt; her physical force and sensuality return. . . . Sitting in a café over a cup of coffee. of my mind; concentrate on the cars going passer-by. cab. I push Rosalía out by outside, the

A woman goes by with a suitcase and then gets in a We had been in

For some reason this reminds me of June; I picture her;

she is preparing for her trip to Los Angeles. month in the summer.

Eugene for a year and she had decided to visit her parents for a I couldn't go, must have had a class to I remember her I think of and then the teach; I was secretly glad that I wasn't going; we would have stayed at their house, which was spacious. . . me if I am going to take her to the airport. people, the loudspeaker, like the ticket counters, of in the living room, a navy blue blazer and slacks; she is asking driving, which I don't enjoy, of the airport, the lights, the ambiguous feelings, the beginnings disagreeable

associations.

I say no if that's alright; she could take a cab She knows I don't like

and it would be so much easier for me.

to drive but she starts to insist, how we won't see each other for a month and all that, but she sees that my mind is made up. I call the taxi, carry the luggage out when he arrives and kiss her good-bye. I felt a certain liberation then, some freedom, not that I had felt oppressed before, but now I could sleep alone, eat alone, and I wouldn't have to respond to anyone; it seemed like a nice change; back to the old days. could enjoy some solitude. noticed. I didn't even think of being liberated like being single again, only that I When she returned so did routine, I think of Amy. I but there might have been something different then; I hardly I have become so ineffectual. didn't do anything about the outcome; I couldn't. That was

convenient for me; maybe I unconsciously engineered it that way. I didn't do anything to keep June, just let her slide from my

116 fingers. Maybe it is cowardice. Now Rosalía and there doesn't I concentrate on the people

seem to be anything I can do. . . ladies busy with the day's affairs. . . . To Isabel A la danseuse, la délicate princesse Of fanciful air; like a sonata Her écartés of purest nostalgia

going by, focus on their faces, their clothes, the pretty young

And sweet modest smile that conjures distress. Glissades of symbols utterly weightless And pirouettes twirling in taffeta; Open hips in aesthetic magenta And a reverie of trifling undress. Cambered waist sublime of grace abstracted, And arms in flowing arcs of light satin, Distant and the curves enrobed evocative Of a bird of fire in protracted Flight, a suite of bourrés of a virgin, Untouched bust quivering and elusive. April 9, 1995 . . . A series of vignettes. I was in a tall tower looking out In another dream I patisseries in the

the window and then I went down and walked over the horizon or I was watching others pass over the horizon. was in Paris and went out to look for

bakeries; I ran into this woman, like a stranger in the street,

117 and went with her. In another this blond girl was driving out in the country; I was in the front seat with her and it seemed like there were others in the back seat. down these deeply rolling hills. The road was going up and It was dark and she hadn't

turned on the lights and we almost had an accident with oncoming traffic; I thought to turn on the lights and we swerved out of the way. Then we stopped at a fancy commercial freeway shopping; going into the bathroom I noticed that I was barefoot and felt a little self-conscious but then decided it was okay. . . . In the morning Rosalía comes in the door after the night out. She walks over and hands me a book where I am sitting on the couch. I look at it and observe, "Brazil. . . Updike. . . ". . ." "A friend of mine comes here from Mexico City on business; his brother is an important publisher. a break. . . I mentioned that he owed me favors and that I had a literary acquaintance that could use He wants to see the first chapter before he can You can translate it can't you?" But. . . What about my It could be translated anonymously, that name; they won't ask any indiscreet guarantee anything. . . name and all that? . . "We'll questions. . . . I can write it now, secretly, using the translation as a cover; it will be the final cosmology, Millennial, and it will be based on the mere footprint on the path that extends forever, the major arcanas of the tarot placed symbolically between past and future. use my What is this for?" "You can translate it." by John

"Yes, it's just a matter of time. is sometimes done I suppose."

It will be like you don't exist."

118 . . . I am having a big scene with my wife; it is like we are back from vacation and she has been listening to this loud music all day. I keep going out of the apartment and then going back I am thinking I can't take this There Then I am out on this terrain. in; there's no place to go. anymore, this coarseness.

is a lake or the ocean further on, like just over this rise. There is a pipe like a whistle to let off steam and further on a smoke stack coming out of the ground. It is like we are at war Then time seems and this is our industry working on production.

to have passed and I am back here again, and now there is much more smoke and this signifies more production and this is like accompanied with music like a film score, like a slow crescendo or a victory march. Then I have gone for a walk at night, like 2 or 3 in the morning; I couldn't sleep, like I had gone out from a house in the country, gone to the outskirts of town and now I am going back. I meet up with this young man who is maybe One of us has an old accompanied by a friend who is coming back to town, like at a fence or some sort of barrier of the town. wooden wagon, like a wooden cart. it. I can't remember what was in

He is like trying to emulate me and I ask him how far he Then I start walking on It is dark and I too far from

went and he has to admit or his friend says oh really not very far, like only a fraction of what I do. my way back. am walking Then I am going for another walk, like another along this mountain trail, not

night, and it is about 3 or 4 in the morning. civilization. little faster.

I feel a little cold and I think I should have I hear a noise and look further up the path and He has a

put on more clothes but then I just think I'll have to move a there is this young man coming down the mountain side. dogs.

gun and what looks like a dead dog in his arms; then like two I think he must have killed them and make to walk on by him, not wanting anything to do with him, but then I see that he

119 is a hunter type and he has put three rabbits on the ground and he is showing me; and then he is telling me how he got them and there is this picture of a boy and girl in this boutique, seen through the window, like vendors there, and he says the rabbits were looking at them from the woods, like they had their heads up and he got them from behind. He shows me in the picture how the two in the boutique have little coins in their mouths to attract the rabbits. I say but then he is firing towards the boutique but somehow he explains this away; and I wonder why he didn't just go buy rabbit in the grocery store, but then I understand that these are much better. Then I am walking again. I come down this decline; there is brush; then I come out along a lake; the trail is right next to the water and there is hardly room to go by. Then I am totally anguished because I am at the Then I am out walking again. end of my patience with my wife and I am going to have to leave her but I can't stand to be alone. Then I am in this apartment; I am standing there and this girl walks in, like it is her apartment and she has just come home, and I have somehow gotten in there without her knowing. about 3 AM. cotton blouse and pants, very sweet. It is She is blond and full-bodied, dressed in a white She is like telling me to She is

leave and I am saying no please you are so sweet just let me stay here with you for a while; she gradually mollifies. sitting in this armchair and I am sitting on the floor beside her leaning on her leg, talking to her softly and maybe brushing her leg with my hand. She is starting to accept me; she has a sort of cloying smell, maybe slightly bitter, like a virgin, and her mouth is small with thin lips, and she is saying are you sure you like me, and I have reservations that I didn't have when I first saw her but I am thinking how soft and sweet her body is and I am saying yes. I am at this big party, like adolescent or college age; lots of people are there. There is a blond girl that I am glad to see and then another from one of my classes and I am talking

120 to her and we are playing around. Then I go into this bedroom I go out and see

and I think that I can sleep there the night.

how many people are there and I say that I am going to sleep in the other room and is that alright with everyone, like will they have enough room to sleep there, and they say yes. is upstairs. weekend. The bedroom I try to I go in; it is like the owners are gone for the I think maybe it has

Now coming in it seems like I hear someone.

turn on the light but it doesn't come on. some sort of delay. either.

I go to the next light switch, like at the

entrance to the next room and it doesn't turn on the light I use my lighter and click it a few times; then the On a little shelf I see a couple of lights come on dimly. when I had come in

little pieces of hashish that I vaguely remember having seen the first time and I had thought about Someone is sleeping in the bed I had I go over to I smoking it but I didn't.

chosen, which now seems small, like for a child; it is a white metal frame bed, rounded and with vertical bars. this shelf where there seems to be a stereo or something.

turn this knob thinking it is the on-off switch; it is spring loaded and clicks into place; this TV set comes on across the room. off. I try to turn it off with the switch but it doesn't turn I decide it must have to run its cycle. The person in the I am

bed wakes up; he is pretty messed up, long thin oily hair, clothes unkempt; he gets up and starts making a fuss. wondering where I am going to sleep and then I see another bed in line with the first one along the wall, the same kind and I see that it has a lot of pillows and more covers stacked in a corner; he has seen this too and is taking some for himself. of my pocket, like with my lighter. I go back in I am leaving and I realize that my cigarettes must have fallen out and find the pack on the floor; I pick it up and look at it and see that it is almost out when it seemed like it was almost full, and the top has been ripped all the way open. I accuse the guy of taking them, and he says yes, not making much of a deal of it,

121 and fumbling around getting out his pack, and he hands me about three, one is broken, another is wet. face in the other's hair. Now it seems like there is a friend with him and when I leave he is like brushing his I go back out thinking I should go to In the the store to get some more cigarettes and looking for someone to go with me, like the girl from before or this other. first room there are only guys, and in the next also, and I realize that it has gotten late and now only the die-hards are left and all the girls have gone home. . . . Millennial Le Bateleur Like the alchemist who on the outcome Of the formula stakes his consciousness And dark hope; the knife unsheathed and timeless Steel that strikes fire on the palladium Of polished stone, the centuries of some Eternal return; seven disks useless On the table while he wanders listless The lands and waters of diluvium. Who was the guardian of the threshold, When the precious ore melted and exposed Shadowed analogies as on a glass. The obscure night of what had been foretold Wherein he might have erred and now were closed The distorted avenues of trespass. April 12, 1995

122 . . . La Papesse Pure memory, the misty portico Of sanctuary, virgin nocturnal Daughter of lunar beauty mystical Isis veiled in a darkening meadow. Dreamt of Leutha's mystery, a grotto, A fountain beneath cold stars, denial, Moist light reflected and past betrayal, A small clandestine vial of indigo. Dreamt flowing waters of generation, Drinking oblivion, initiate In the chaotic chapel of dismay. And of the eternal emanation Capricious, the morning inviolate, Diaphanous and shallow disarray. April 15, 1995 . . . L'Impératrice Splendor unveiled in a verdant garden, Urania and the petals of nature, Mid-day heat and her forms couched in moisture A goddess in the light softly woven. Supine on the earth gorgeously loosen Bare hands in the soil opening mature

123 To the cycles of physical rapture, Of amour and desire left swollen. Parted lips exhausted the eyes stinging Of essence immersed and impure intents Nervous tangles of ravished wilderness. Arching back on outstretched arms and yielding Frantic to a dark flood of elements, An inner panic of fluid caress. April 19, 1995 . . . L'Empereur Of realm, cubic stone and solemn sceptre Spoken in a metaphysical sense As of the force of law and eminence Our slow progression of pomp and lustre. Royal fate or blindest chance, the spectre Torments with dread these walls of opulence; We the ruler of our state and presence Ransomed conquests with bloody theatre. Of the wretched court and pawns disdainful, With baubles and gilded titles lavish Ornamental beauties of our chamber. And of this our blemished crown distrustful, Secret enemies, jealousies banish With singular will and sudden anger.

124

April 20, 1995 . . . Le Pape Massive arched portal of revelation, Brick basilica of somber matter, Organ's hymn of profound choral prayer, Priests in scarlet robes of incarnation. Sculptured pillars of illumination, Men of faith breathing of sacred letter, Path of the cross, frescos of a master, Gleam of candles of purification. Carved bronze altar of redemptive service. Seraphims aloft, encrusted in shrine, Ogives bent in vaulted severity. Absolution, holy water, chalice, Blessed rising in benediction divine, Dark stained windows of religious mercy. April 21, 1995 . . . Les Deux Routes Before illusion, the ancient Maya Of naked beauty, wishful opiate, Nude and lush, nothingness deliberate, Senses in dreamlike melancholia.

125 Or the flowing discourse of dilemma, Mystic silken dress of forms inchoate, Oh fleeting bliss in passion consummate, One's love is sworn worldly Urania. But pause, if in blind worship of Being, Tempted by a concealed charm of poison, Now a symbolic sophistication. At the moment of her white hands bleeding, Hopeless division, depressive reason, Clandestine and erotic perversion. April 22, 1995 . . . Le Chariot Battle car shifting, barrel erected, Gyres turning on the rubble amorphous, Clouds of dust whirling black and sulfurous, Crimson cataracts of flames ejected. Triumphant advancing in projected Annihilation, slow and rapacious; Conquering, in bloody war glorious, The shadows with mortal wounds subjected. Throbbing streets in massacre erupted With brutal weapons, of earth's ancient laws, Arcane forces set in vicious motion. Archetypes that thrust their engines corrupted, Clutching vanquished daughters with gnashing claws

126 In the throes of death and revolution. April 25, 1995 . . . La Justice She seems all acceptance and softest smile, Knowing eyes covered by a golden band; A go-between that seems to understand, All of time the balance to reconcile. Universal will blithely regards while A sword empowers with fateful demand, Astral harmony acting underhand To confuse, oppress and subtly beguile. Bleak cards of condemnation nothing show, Quarrels, cavils and repudiation, Deep spirals of memory unredeemed. Currents of corruption that tainted glow, Devouring the chaos of creation Since the offended beauty had not screamed. April 27, 1995 . . . L'Ermite Cloaked in mortal grey, a shrouded lantern, Far from city walls, dark solitary, Withdrawn in night dense and visionary, Unsettled dream world and troubled pattern.

127

Vague analogies, an ancient cistern, A forest absent of corollary, Through naked branches a sanctuary, Yet of no way the senses to discern. Of clairvoyance exists no virgin text, Strange symbols acting in gleams corrosive, Intrigue entangled in nocturnal winds. Lightly flatters nervous allures and next, In too distant encounters seductive, On landscape straying lost exotic ends. April 30, 1995 . . . Le Sphinx Cassandra pierced the flux of fortune's wheel, Her wisdom expiring half-remembered, With black murmurs of the Sphinx encumbered, Onyx eyes void when queried of the real. Life's rise and fall no destiny reveal, The shrewd acquiesce in descent sobered, Of loves cautious that they be not rendered To vicious spiral closed with occult seal. Too late the charm, savoir faire imprisoned, Too soon abandon, given over to flight; Torpid flow reversed, crush of loose caress. In alternation vain knowledge sanctioned,

128 Turning curses against sublime delight, Mute oracles of a dire mistress. May 4, 1995 . . . La Force Genesis surging phased with energy, Pulses of crimson down silver wire, Luminous zones of illusion transpire, Light unreal impelled towards polarity. Vital circuits of enforced agony, Metal luring in arteries of fire, Radiance scathing animal desire, Mass fissured in savage intensity. Burning sign of Babylonian whore, Woman, violence, excess and seizure, Tearing at the world while chafed power sears. Seduction, anguish, incandescent sore, Fury defiled, untenable rupture, The core a tempest wherein nothing nears. May 5, 1995 . . . Le Pendu So many figures carry this arcane, Bear the cross for the grace of idea; A tragic turn in roots of nausea,

129 Stunned with repulse on the rack of profane. Bitter torments of tortured mind sustain The measured drip of saintly morphia, The rupture in restless hysteria, Memories hanging in ecstasy strain. Plight of anguish like a jilted lover Bloodied in the midst the cheated stone Draws being with timely immolation. What was crucified and is no longer, Ascetic wretches suspended alone Risk nothing of flesh save desolation. May 11, 1995 . . . La Mort As in a remote room dark and quiet Dreamlike contours and textures narcotic Beauty of a Lilith esoteric, Mirrored as nude in purest white toilet. Or extended, skin, light, bed like velvet, On night pale and still ideal erotic, Married, transformed on breast's mortal fabric, Tender vial inert of the Styx inlet. . . . with countless flaws

In fatal coil consumed . . . . . .

130

Epilogue It isn't known exactly what happened. The woman had left a Desperate, she He tells She small town with her daughter; her husband had kicked her out for whoring, and there was no place for her there. thinks that he will save her, or at least help her.

her he can't do anything but she doesn't believe him.

continues to work at night, perhaps with the idea that jealousy will get to him. He goes to watch her dance again; she has invited him; and afterwards they make love passionately in her dressing room. time out. she comes That will be the last time. to him every night. Teresa will come to For some gradually One night, will him because she can't sleep. And she will come again. Rosalía

become aware of their entente and finally in anguish kick him She reconsiders and sends her daughter to him. impatient, he sends her away. had to have been her fault. still wants him, later. . . in Rio. The next morning she comes back Salvador tells her that if she he gives her his sister's address

with a bruise on her cheek; her mother had hit her because it

At the end of his money he takes a bus to Veracruz. They call him the French chef. Nearing Rio

There, he manages to find a tanker going to Rio and obtains a job as the cook. one of the men talks about this black girl, black as night, Ana, the most perfect breasts in the world. and goes to sleep. the mouth. Salvador arrives at his sister's; she's not home; he sits down against the door to wait She comes home, wakes him, and kisses him on