that time I kept out of circumstances that were too full of mystery.
As people with stomach ailments avoid heavy meals,
I preferred to stay at home inquiring into certain questions
Concerning the propagation of spiders,
To which end I would shut myself up in the garden
And not show myself in public until late at night;
Or else, in shirt sleeves, defiant,
I would hurl angry glances at the moon,
Trying to get rid of those bilious fancies
That cling like polyps to the human soul.
When I was alone I was completely self-possessed,
I went back and forth fully conscious of my actions
Or I would stretch out among the planks of the cellar
And dream, think up ways and means, resolve little emergency problems.
It was at that moment that I put into practice my famous method for interpreting dreams
Which consists in doing violence to oneself and then imagining what one would like,
Conjuring up scenes that I had worked out beforehand with the help of powers from other worlds.
In this manner I was able to obtain priceless information
Concerning a string of anxieties that afflict our being:
Foreign travel, erotic disorders, religious complexes.
But all precautions were inadequate,
Because, for reasons hard to set forth
I began sliding automatically down a sort of inclined plane.
My soul lost altitude like a punctured balloon,
The instinct of self-preservation stopped functioning
And, deprived of my most essential prejudices,
I fell unavoidably into the telephone trap
Which sucks in everything around it, like a vacuum,
And with trembling hands I dialed that accursed number
Which even now I repeat automatically in my sleep.
Uncertainty and misery filled the seconds that followed,
While I, like a skeleton standing before that table from hell
Covered with yellow
by W.S. Merwin
en: Antipoems: New and Selected (edited by David Unger), New York, New Directions, 1985.