swear I no longer remember her name,
but I know what to call her: Maria
not just to sound like a poet; to bring
back that town, with its one dusty plaza.
Those were the days, all right. I was a gawky kid;
she was a pale, somber girl,
One day, when I came home from school, I found out
she had died, through no fault of her own,
a story that hit me so hard when I heard it
a tear trickled out of my eye.
A tear !...out of me, and I've always been
known as a fairly unflappable guy.
If I'm going to accept the story as true
the way that they told it that day;
then there's something I'll have to believe:
she died with my name in her eyes,
which is baffling, because we were never that close;
she was only a sociable friend.
We were friends at a certain safe distance,
in a certain conventional tone:
talk about weather, arid trying to predict
when the swallows would make their way home.
I knew tier in my little town (in that town
now reduced to a handful of ashes)
but I grasped she was never to be any more
than she was: just a sad, wistful girl.
I could see it so sharply I gave her
the heavenly name of Maria:
my personal system of seeing the world
always goes straight to the truth.
Maybe I kissed her just that one time,
but only a kiss between friends
so off-handed and spur of the moment
it could never have meant anything.
I cannot deny that I liked
being with her; her vague, gentle self
was like the unthreatening aura
that blooms out of flowerpots.
I cannot make less of the depth
that her smile could take in and hold
or disparage the soothing effect
she could work on the very stones.
One thing more to confess: her eyes
gave a faithful account of the night.
I admit these things, trusting you still
see my point: that I did not love her
except with that fuzzy compassion
we might feel for an invalid aunt.
But yet, it did happen. But yet,
what astonishes me to this day,
that amazing and troubling thing happened:
she died with my name in her eyes.
That girl, that immaculate multiple rose,
that girl, who could generate light.
They are right, now I know it, those people
whose lives are one endless complaint
how this jerry-built world that we live in
is worth less than a broken-down crate.
More honor is shoveled down into the grave
more worth lies in a rusty old nail.
Nothing is true, nothing lasts; not even
the trouble you go to to see it.
Today is a brilliant blue day in spring
I think I will die from all this poetry.
And my fine mealancholy young girl-
I can't even remember her name.
All I know is, she passed through this world
like a random dove fluttering by.
I forgot her, not meaning to, slowly,
like everything else in this life.
by Naomi Lindstrom
revista Latin American Literary Review, 1981.