Tuesday, November 15, 2011

To be an Instant by Rafael Guillén

Art by Richard Johnson

To be an Instant
Rafael Guillén
Translated by Sandy McKinney
From the Spanish

Certitude comes as a bedazzlement,
instants of light. Or blackness.
The rest is just hours passing, the backdrop,
gray for contrast. The rest is the void.

It's a moment. The body untenants itself, sets free
that transparency with which it can see itself.
It moves into things, materializes in matter,
and we can sense it from some distant place.

I remember an instant when Paris struck me
with the weight of a burnt-out star.
I remember that total rain. Paris is sad.
Everything lovely is sad while time exists.

To live is to pause with one foot lifted;
losing a step, to gain a second.
Watching a river flow, we don't see the water.
to live is to see the water, to hold its patterns.

I was lazily propped on my elbows over the iron railing
of the Pont des Arts. Suddenly, life flashed out.
It was raining over the Seine and the water, riddled,
turned into stone, the ash of hardened lava.

Nothing alters its order. It's only one heartbeat
of a self which, by surprise, becomes perceptible.
And the density of iron is sensed from within,
and we become the glance that pierces us.

Lucidity always selects unforeseen moments,
as when in the projection room, a failure
interrupts the action, leaving a still-shot.
The motion begins again, and we sink into it.

The heavy silhouette of the Louvre
no longer took up space, but was installed
in some part of me, part of that total consciousness
split by a ray whose aim is absolute.

To be one instant. Yourself immersed in other
things that are. Afterwards, nothing. The universe
continues its whirling death in the void.
But for one moment, it pauses, fully alive.

I remember it rained over Paris. Even the trees
on the banks became eternal. The next moment
the water renewed its course and once more I
watched it, seeing nothing, lose itself under the bridge.

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