Claudio Romero opens his eyes.
He dreamed, like each year, of settling accounts with Ortiz:
Jagged breath in the lampless slum,
Moon-silvered sweat, the knife in the other’s hand.
Keep your eyes on the blade, wait for the attack,
Dodge, then strike yourself. It must be September,
He thinks, as each September he always dreams about this death.
He slowly sits up on the bed. His back hurts.
He thinks: forty two years, forty two dreams.
He thinks: just like María Rosita (a cousin from Milagres,
Visits him once a year too). He reaches for the phone
Lying by the bed, on the screen he browses through
“The Messenger” and “The Latest News.” He thinks: Ortiz, you old rascal,
How do you like it? Newspapers on the telephone
That fits in the hand like a knife. Would you believe it?
Ortiz remains contemptuously silent, fading with the dream’s residues.
Romero stands up heavily, his back still aching.
He thinks: Ortiz, answer me, while you still can,
Because if there is no other life, you only exist in me
Right after awakening, one morning in September.
This poem is part of the series “New Verse by Once-Famous Poets” and is not an authentic poem by Jorge Luis Borges.
Translated from the Polish by Adam Zdrodowski
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