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The Last Letter



By Romano Giudicissi

 

He who has ears let him hear:

For Alma, so loved

As no one has ever loved her,

So loved as no one

Will ever love her again.

 

[Alma in Spanish means Soul - and is also a woman's name.]

 

Alma,

after all

that has been between us,

after all

we have already said,

not even I know

why I am writing to you,

but I cannot omit doing so,

and I am sending you this

as the last

of my letters.

 

Mi life and my deeds,

although on everyone’s lips,

are disdained and wasted.

If they did not know the truth,

though as in a dream,

they would have no guilt.

But now they know

and are guilty,

thereby profaning my love.

 

You also,

Alma,

if you did not know the truth

would have no guilt.

But you know what a hard and long offering

my coming still is.

 

My time has

not yet been consumed;

yours, Alma,

is ripe for harvest.

 

A bit longer

and my time will come,

a bit longer

and yours

will have ended.

Then, poor you,

the long winter will come,

the silence,

the loneliness,

the inexorable sentence.


I do not cease to grieve

over the same question:

What has become of the smiles,

the promises

and the White Weddng Gown?

 

Oh, what sadness you bring me!

How could you ever forget

our pact of blood?

If you don’t believe in me

and if your memory fails you

ask your blood

in which abundantly flows mine.

Then perhaps you will awaken

from the enchantment

that enfolds you in

mournful mist.

 

What kind of love is yours?

You invoke me only at low tide.

When happiness

glows in your eyes

you forget me.

 

You call me

only in the terrible hours

when it is intolerable

to digest all the poison

and it becomes impossible

to transform it into food.

I, here, always at your feet,

humiliating myself with the hope

of a glance.

 

A single glance would suffice

for your heart

to glow

as mine glows –

and you don’t dare to even raise your eyes.

Why should you fear me?

I love you

more than myself,

above myself,

and I live to the degree

that you live,

be it in pleasure

or even more so in pain.

 

Before it is

too late,

I beg you, Alma,

look at me.

Dare to look at me!

Though it be only once

have the courage to look at me

and you will be forever safe,

and you will be forever spouse.

 

You see

that at each invocation

I resort to the same hope

that at last

you will notice me:

me,

who alleviates sorrow,

me,

who heals wounds,

me,

who forgives debts and debtors.

Then you complain

that I am responsible

for all your unhappiness,

when I am the only bearer

of all goodness.

 

Mine are the valleys

which you inhabit –

valleys once fertile

with wheat and flocks

which you have turned to wasteland

through indifference.

Mine are the rivers,

the blue seas,

the winter pastures and forests.

Mine are the mines

of gold and silver,

mine are the mines

of the sun and the moon.

All this

and still more than this

has been entrusted me by my father.

I have given it to you,

to you whom I love

as no one has loved,

to you whom I love

as no one ever

will love again.

 

Ingrate,

you still call me

only when nightmares

impede your sleep,

when you are thirsty,

when you are hungry

or when fear suffocates you.

You never invite me

when your table is set

with good food and wines.

Just the other day

when I appeared for a moment

as you sang and laughed

you threw me out

like the least of beggars,

calling me a wet blanket

me, who enjoyed the gaiety

more than any of your guests.

 

I do not conceal from you

that I am desolate,

more desolate than ever.

I cannot hide from you

that the cup

- as proclaimed by

the mother of all mothers –

is full.

So full

that one more drop

and it will overflow.

 

As within a bottomless pit,

with a rhythm of bells

that ring to death,

the night is falling.

Never has been seen to fall

such a black night,

such an abundance

of horrible forebodings.

 

The thread of days

has broken

and all returns

toward its origin.

Nations are known who,

inflamed by hate,

traverse the land

to kill themselves in war.

Others are known

who venerate a beast

so poisonous

that to look at it

is to be fulminated

in the same instant.

I could tell you

of still others

who, possessed

by sad prophesies,

have delivered themselves up to death,

piercing their breasts with long knives.

The noble ones,

having abandoned their clean dwellings,

changed their vestments

of silks and jewels for tatters,

have withdrawn to the desert

to expiate their guilt.

Certain sailors

swear to have seen

fish flying high over the sea

and birds of earth

swoop down against surging waves.

Visions and fears

torment the sleep

of the venerable ancients,

children prophesize,

women are changed to stone,

men adore the abomination

placed in the holy place

and, the other day,

crows

with their black wings

stirred up a fire in a brazier

to burn in its hollows

broods of white doves.

The light is withdrawing,

innumerable

will be the darknesses and,

while the false prophets

announce the end of the world,

an incredible multitude,

pressed against the portals

of the temple,

lies down in fear

longing for the new good.

 

Alma, these days are

like ferocious thieves, savage hoards led

by pestilence and hunger,

like vultures attracted

by the stench of dead flesh

that descend toward the regions

where time ends.

Regions

which still keep me exiled,

the fault

-if one can speak of fault -  

of my incomparable love.

 

Alma, these are days of ill-omen:

homes where flowers

whither at once,

cripples who moan

their ill-fated slow daily lament.

These are days

when the blind

are about to see

and those who think they see

will become blind.

These days are

like opaque walls

that separate the night from the day,

like ships adrift

without direction

while the harps

are so hungry for caresses

and so few dare to play them

for fear of going mad.

 

Listen,

Alma, the more

the torment of passion

pushes you in pursuit of the footprints

of infinite signs

the more will it be impossible

to find the road

which leads to me,

for you have never received me

as I am naked,

for you never

have let me sleep

in the warmth of your being,

for you never

have wanted to console me

for my long exile.

 

Be careful of the games

of exquisite and subtle traps.

You are incarnating me so much

that your arms are

like clipped wings.

You invest strange tales

where inhuman creatures

soothe infernal deliriums,

while I long

for the beats of your heart

to merge themselves in mine

and that you

finally feel saturated

in the nuptial embrace.

 

Alma,

Alma,

I yearn so for your love,

even more now

when love

is ending

in the world –

and you do nothing

but come and go

from the stars to the flesh,

from the flesh to the stars.

In order not to die of tedium

you have begun,

with infinite astuteness,

to compose of me

crossword puzzles

in order to make the truth

an insoluble charade.

 

Oh, before eternity are condemned

the murderers of the roses!

Eternally damned

are the tormentors of the iridescent

butterflies!

 

... Love is ending

in the world ...

to which loyal spouse will I deliver

our inner son?

 

Crippled,

you cannot remove the nails,

nor can I completely

crucify you

without you wanting it –

so why do you waste the years

wandering from the stars to the flesh

and from the flesh to the stars?

 

Wake up, Alma,

the blind are about to see

and those who think they see

nevermore,

nevermore,

nevermore will see.

 

Decide,

and let us live the dance

of most perfect love!

My father

has waited centuries for us,

my mother

has waited centuries for us,

the rainbow

has waited centuries for us,

and still you reproach me

that you did not choose me

but I selected you.

 

So be it:

I am seeking so

that I consume myself

and can do no less

than consume myself more

seeking you.

I have beseeched you so much

that in my mouth

and on my hands I have wounds

whose blood will not encrust.

 

I NEED YOU, ALMA:

without you, I am a widower,

without you, I am an orphan,

without you, I have no arms,

nor do I have feet,

nor do I have eyes.

YOU NEED ME, ALMA:

without me, you have no life,

without me, your arms give no warmth,

without me, your feet walk not,

without me, your eyes see not.

If you do not yet fear

it's because I still seek you.

 

I NEED YOU, ALMA,

TO SEAL THE ROYAL MARRIAGE

WITH MY STIGMATA.


Bewitched,

of which water

from which fountain

would you drink

the arrogance

of your beautiful adolescence,

to deceive yourself

like precious pearls

thrown to the swine?

Find out.

Although you've sold me

a million times

you can never forget my name.

Contemplate

how high it is in the sky

and how deep it is in the earth:

my name,

no one can ever

erase it,

my name,

hear how sweet it is,

how perfect it is,

complete,

free.

 

Too tied to the wheel

of infinite returns,

if instead of understanding me

you would try to experience me

how much we could do together

of all that I have done alone.

By not knowing me

greater is the pain,

louder is the scream,

for in penetrating you so

I pain you more.

 

How often have I told you

of my long vigil

in the orchard of agony?

If I had no other choice

for myself

how could I have one

for you, little Alma,

so tied to the earth!

 

But soon,

on the day of the living flames,

you also will walk

on the mountain of skulls.

I will come for you,

and when I do

will you recognize me?

will you be able to accept me

with the kiss which receives

the impulse of life?


Forgetful one,

from which fountains

of which springs

would you extract

the water of life,

if I am the spring,

if I am the life?

In which devoted disciple

do you confide

at the hour of convulsions

if I am wisdom,

if I am devotion?

To which saint would you

raise your prayers

if I am sanctity,

if I am prayer?

And you still know not

how to pray?

It is useless

to scrutinize the horizon

expecting beings

from other worlds

or that a multitude

of shining angels

come to save you,

for I am the horizon,

I am salvation!

 

In truth it is useless

to seek more,

for I AM THE MORE.

I am the mother

who kissed your cheeks

furrowed with tears,

I am the father

with his firm gentleness,

I am the brother who

reveals to you the symbols

of dreams.

 

You do nothing but flee.

To flee, but

to where will you flee

that you have not already flown?

 

To what new frontier

of the universe

would you go
where I cannot reach you
if I wish?

On what new shores

would you land

where I cannot await you

– if I wish?

 

I, the only one who can heal

the wounds of your clipped wings!


In which deep abyss

submerge,

in what opium smoke away the boredom

of the waiting days?

To which false charm succumb

with desperate mind

to which I, if I wish,

cannot be even madder?

 

Friends,

adventures,

distant beauty,

there is no corner

where you can conceal yourself

ALIVE OR DEAD

and where, if I wish,

I cannot revive in you,

still more potent,

still more tremendous.

 

For all the plots

and exorcisms

you can arrange,

for all the dates

you miss

you cannot avoid

my absolute love,

my absolute pain.

My pain is forever

and for ever:

galaxies have been born

and have extinguished

feeding upon my pain,

pain which will always

find you again

awaiting the day of the living flames,

on which you will welcome me.

 

      - - -

 

You are welcome,

for now I know who you are:

you are the divine spouse,

you are the absolute pain

which feeds the spirit of things.

It is you

who makes comprehensible

the way

and walks in unison

with life and death,

and from death generates life.

Twenty centuries

did not suffice to know you

while flowers carried you on their stems.

 

Nuptial alliance:

you are welcome,

for you are the transmutation,

the fecundation,

the height,

the depth,

the alpha and the omega.

You are welcome,

for you are the life

of my flesh,

the breath of my blood,

you who makes grow

the plants from the earth

and melts the snowflakes.

You are welcome,

for you are not the cross

but him who leads me

to it,

teaching me

the new prayer:

 

I LOVE YOU

BY YOUR REAL NAME

BECAUSE OF ALL

THAT IS BORN AND DIES

YOU ARE THE ONE

WHO NEVER DIES.

 

 

Translated from the Spanish by Frank Thomas Smith.

 

Romano Giudicissi is an Italian painter and poet.


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