~ After Octavio Paz’s “Between going and staying” (Entre irse quedarse)
When I came I thought I could leave after so many years,
but as time passed there was always something new
to tie me down: Oh obligation, how elusive your promise
that someday all debts will be erased, the horizon cleared:
for choice, for true passage. The lawyer sends a letter
every year. In the drawer, a folder of accountables.
On the table, the gleanings of what we’ve come
to truly prize: careful miniatures set in oval frames,
a book of names, a box with just one handful
of yellowed photographs. Bloodlines are
most stubborn of all pulses running through
our veins. On first arriving here, I marveled
that most ceilings had no fixtures for flooding rooms
with light. Now I understand: we carry our own lamps.
There is no way to live in time without a history.
Who are you? They ask again and again.
How often must I read it, write it?
We are. I am. We are.
In response to Via Negativa: Messenger.