Friday, October 2, 2009

Poem: Reading Octavio Paz in Mexico Eighteen Months After Your Death

by Alex Gallo-Brown

Reading Paz in Mexico,
Paz writing on Mexicans and death,
eighteen months after, eighteen months
like a succession of dreams,
relentless, without respite from reality.
Some of those days spent
thinking about you,
turning the memories over in my mind,
letting them sift against my skin
and other days, just hurrying
through the fog.
"Nobody thinks about his own death," declares Paz,
"because nobody lives a personal life."
But I do, Paz, I do.
I wonder on the bus
if this is the last ride
I will ever take, this countryside
the last bit I will ever glimpse.
It wouldn't be so hard, would it?
An errant flick of the driver's wrist—
then formless, bodyless
among the stars.

Reading Paz in Mexico
eighteen months after,
Paz lecturing, hectoring on death,
implacable orator, ancient high priest.
You were always more
like a jester, singing lightness
from your corner of the court:
you brought people to you, you took them in.
"Tell me how you died," Paz demands,
"and I will tell you who you are."
All right, Paz, l will tell you
how my father died.
He died on assignment,
a magazine writer in a foreign land,
frightened, perhaps, but in love todavia--
devout in this faith until his end.