The Country Boy

Soy el tigre.
Te acecho entre las hojas anchas como lingotes
de mineral mojado.
El río blanco crece bajo la niebla. Llegas.
Desnuda te sumerges. Espero.


Under the volcanoes, beside the snow-capped mountains, among the huge lakes, the fragrant, the silent, the tangled Chilean forest … My feet sink down into the dead leaves, a fragile twig crackles, the giant rauli trees rise in all their bristling height, a bird from the cold jungle passes over, flaps its wings, and stops in the sunless branches. And then, from its hideaway, it sings like an oboe … The wild scent of the laurel, the dark scent of the boldo herb enter my nostrils and flood my whole being … The cypress of the Guaitecas blocks my way … This is a vertical world: a nation of birds, a plenitude of leaves … I stumble over a rock, dig up the uncovered hollow, an enormous spider covered with red hair stares up at me, motionless, as huge as a crab … A golden carabus beetle blows its mephitic breath at me, as its brilliant rainbow disappears like lightning … Going on, I pass through a forest of ferns much taller than I am: from their cold green eyes sixty tears splash down on my face and, behind me, their fans go on quivering for a long time … A decaying tree trunk: what a treasure!… Black and blue mushrooms have given it ears, red parasite plants have covered it with rubies, other lazy plants have let it borrow their beards, and a snake springs out of the rotted body like a sudden breath, as if the spirit of the dead trunk were slipping away from it … Farther along, each tree stands away from its fellows … They soar up over the carpet of the secretive forest, and the foliage of each has its own style, linear, bristling, ramulose, lanceolate, as if cut by shears moving in infinite ways … A gorge; below, the crystal water slides over granite and jasper … A butterfly goes past, bright as a lemon, dancing between the water and the sunlight … Close by, innumerable calceolarias nod their little yellow heads in greeting … High up, red copihues (Lapageria rosea) dangle like drops from the magic forest’s arteries … The red copihue is the blood flower, the white copihue is the snow flower … A fox cuts through the silence like a flash, sending a shiver through the leaves, but silence is the law of the plant kingdom … The barely audible cry of some bewildered animal far off … The piercing interruption of a hidden bird … The vegetable world keeps up its low rustle until a storm churns up all the music of the earth.

Anyone who hasn’t been in the Chilean forest doesn’t know this planet.

I have come out of that landscape, that mud, that silence, to roam, to go singing through the world.

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A Man in Love, … next year I shall plant some Tomatoes

Walking down a narrow street one evening, I stole a melon. The fruit seller, who was lurking behind his fruit, caught me by the arm.

Miss, I’ve been waiting for a chance like this for forty years. For forty years I’ve hidden behind this pile of oranges in the hope that somebody might pinch some fruit. And the reason for that is this: I want to talk, I want to tell my story. If you don’t listen, I’ll hand you over to the police.

I’m listening, I told him.

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The topographical and anatomical information in particular is lost on me … I see nothing. It’s because there is nothing.

I see nothing. It’s because there is nothing. Or it’s because I have no eyes. Or both. (That makes three possibilities, to choose from.) But do I really see nothing? It’s not the moment to tell a lie. But how can you not tell a lie? What an idea!

A voice like this, who can check it? It tries everything. It’s blind, it seeks me blindly, in the dark. It seeks a mouth, to enter into. Who can query it? There is no other. (You’d need a head? you’d need things? I don’t know. I look too often as if I knew. It’s the voice does that: it goes all knowing, to make me think I know, to make me think it’s mine.)

It has no interest in eyes. It says I have none, or that they are no use to me. Then it speaks of tears. Then it speaks of gleams. It is truly at a loss. Gleams? Yes: far or near. (Distances: you know, measurements. Enough said?) Gleams, as at dawn. Then dying, as at evening. Or flaring up – they do that too: blaze up more dazzling than snow, for a second (that’s short!), then fizzle out.

That’s true enough?

If you like: one forgets, I forget. I say I see nothing, or I say it’s all in my head (as if I felt a head on me!). That’s all hypotheses, lies. These gleams too: they were to save me, they were to devour me. That came to nothing. I see nothing (either because of this or else on account of that). And these images at which they watered me, like a camel, before the desert? I don’t know. More lies, just for the fun of it? (Fun! What fun we’ve had! What fun of it!) All lies? (That’s soon said – you must say soon, it’s the regulations.)

The place. I’ll make it all the same. I’ll make it in my head, I’ll draw it out of my memory, I’ll gather it all about me. (I’ll make myself a head, I’ll make myself a memory.) I have only to listen: the voice will tell me everything (tell it to me again), everything I need – in dribs and drabs, breathless.

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To dream burnished surfaces are a figuration and promise of the infinite … how little we know

The Library of Babel

The Universe, which others call the Library, is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries. In the center of each gallery is a ventilation shaft, bounded by a low railing. From any hexagon one can see the floors above and below—one after another, endlessly. The arrangement of the galleries is always the same: Twenty bookshelves, five to each side, line four of the hexagon’s six sides; the height of the bookshelves, floor to ceiling, is hardly greater than the height of a normal librarian.

One of the hexagon’s free sides opens onto a narrow sort of vestibule, which in turn opens onto another gallery, identical to the first— identical in fact to all. To the left and right of the vestibule are two tiny compartments. One is for sleeping, upright; the other, for satisfying one’s physical necessities (otro, satisfacer las necesidades fecales). Through this space, too, there passes a spiral staircase, which winds upward and downward into the remotest distance. In the vestibule there is a mirror, which faithfully duplicates appearances. Men often infer from this mirror that the Library is not infinite—if it were, what need would there be for that illusory replication? I prefer to dream that burnished surfaces are a figuration and promise of the infinite…. Light is provided by certain spherical fruits that bear the name “bulbs.” There are two of these bulbs in each hexagon, set crosswise. The light they give is insufficient, and unceasing.

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With love to you all, including Triggs, I remain, Yours very affectionately

To Thy goodness we commend ourselves this night beseeching Thy protection of us through its darkness and dangers. We are helpless and dependent; graciously preserve us. For all whom we love and value, for every friend and connection, we equally pray; however divided and far asunder, we know that we are alike before Thee, and under Thine eye. May we be equally united in Thy faith and fear, in fervent devotion towards Thee, and in Thy merciful protection this night.

Elizabeth felt herself growing more angry every moment; yet she tried to the utmost to speak with composure when she said: “You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner.”

She saw him start at this, but he said nothing, and she continued: “You could not have made the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it.”

Again his astonishment was obvious; and he looked at her with an expression of mingled incredulity and mortification. She went on: “From the very beginning–from the first moment, I may almost say–of my acquaintance with you, your manners, impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form the groundwork of disapprobation on which succeeding events have built so immovable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.”

“You have said quite enough, madam. I perfectly comprehend your feelings, and have now only to be ashamed of what my own have been. Forgive me for having taken up so much of your time, and accept my best wishes for your health and happiness.”

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Dulce Domum … it was good to think he had this to come back to, this place which was all his own

The sheep ran huddling together against the hurdles, blowing out thin nostrils and stamping with delicate fore-feet, their heads thrown back and a light steam rising from the crowded sheep-pen into the frosty air, as the two animals hastened by in high spirits, with much chatter and laughter. They were returning across country after a long day’s outing with Otter, hunting and exploring on the wide uplands, where certain streams tributary to their own River had their first small beginnings; and the shades of the short winter day were closing in on them, and they had still some distance to go. Plodding at random across the plough, they had heard the sheep and had made for them; and now, leading from the sheep-pen, they found a beaten track that made walking a lighter business, and responded, moreover, to that small inquiring something which all animals carry inside them, saying unmistakably, “Yes, quite right; this leads home!”

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A rip in the fabric of Time, unnerving but fascinating

It appeared as the third and last clock stopped its ticking. Steel saw it first, then Rob. Sapphire was also aware of its presence. It was a moving, flickering shape that appeared high up, near the apex of the end wall. It seemed, as first, to be a part of the wall texture itself. As if the plaster of the wall was shifting. Then it appeared to take on a series of quick, broken images. Robe felt that it looked like pieces of old and faded moving-film, except that these images were three-dimensional. Rob also thought that he heard, under the rumbling of the skin-like fabric, the sound of voices that seemed to squeal with laughter of pain, or both.

Sapphire nodded. ‘Time.’ She put her arm about Helen’s shoulders and drew the child close to her as she continued to address Rob. ‘You can’t see it. Only now and again. Perhaps a glimpse, that’s all. But even that is dangerous. Also, you cannot enter into Time.’ The smile left her face. In its place was the calm, cool look. It was a look that somehow helped to illustrate her theme. The look itself seemed ageless, as if the blueness, that she radiated, was somehow both the colour and the secret of time.

There were no large cupboards in the room, not even a wardrobe. Helen’s clothes were hung in a built-in unit on the landing outside. The door through which Rob had entered was the only door. The room also had only one window. This was fitted with half-length curtains which were drawn to. Rob moved across the room and snatched the curtains open. The small window was shut tight. There was also a child-guard screwed to about two thirds of the window height. Rob tested the guard. It was still fixed firmly in place.

Steel passed the picture. ‘I doubt it,’ he said as he began to descend the first flight of stairs. Rob followed him. He still felt tired, but he did not fancy sleeping in his own bedroom. Not at the moment. He passed the picture, thinking that there was another couch in the sitting room. Maybe if he fell asleep on that, or even pretended to sleep on it, Sapphire might make him a bed there and tuck him up for the night. He was even wondering, though he would never admit it, what a kiss goodnight from Sapphire would be like.

Rob waited, feeling like someone who was fixed to a spot. Fixed there forever. His mind was filled with a jumble of thoughts. Perhaps this was the time-corridor thing. This place. A nowhere place. Perhaps he was to be left here now. Perhaps it would never be morning, and never be night again. Perhaps it would always stay like this, the very same time. So therefore he would never feel hungry, never feel tired, never feel anything but this strange sense of isolation, of not belonging. Perhaps it would be like that for him forever.

Rob and Helen were back in the kitchen again with Sapphire. Constable Daly had driven back to Scars Edge. He looked slightly puzzled, in the way that people do when they feel that they have been somewhere, or done something before, perhaps in a dream. But he had left feeling satisfied. Rob had watched, without being able to say a word, as Steel moved into action. He had literally stepped into Daly’s arrival at the door, like a fair-owner stepping on to a moving roundabout. Therefore it became Steel, not Rob, who had opened the door, Steel who had asked Daly what he wanted, who told the policeman that everything was alright at that house, and that he, Steel, was a friend of the family who was visiting, in the hope of some peace and quiet in the country.

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