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Jaime Saenz
Jaime Saenz

from: Immanent Visitor
translated by Kent Johnson and Forrest Gander


from: Immanent Visitor

-- For my mother and my Aunt Esther; and for my dead friends

      -- your serious happiness flows out behind you
in an ecstasy of ancient voyage




      This immanent visitor haunts lilies and the arm's delicate down, he adorns a penumbra.

      He roams the chords and the manifold contours, and here, in the window and there, in the magnificent forest,

      this wayfarer gazes at me, unreadable,

      veils himself in the dense and pungent smell of lamps

      and in those intricate weavings oblivion loomed

      -- his gaze of stone, washed and smooth

      seldom settles on the blessings of life,

      his eyes and gait and his astonishing cane raise night airs to the hoary spheres

      and undulate from below and on high the flux and curve of an undergrowth of dreams

      which our steps flatten without pity to the ground.

      A flame hovers over the prattle, ensombers the wine's sediment,

      and proclaims the arrival of a corpse to the habits of morning

      -- light-fearing, the dead one, with ears of gold and cacao,

      a torso engraved in his memory,

      tears lovely as spiders

      and hands alert in their place,

      amidst the stillness of the psalms.



      From the blue way you envelop the world,

      the blue way you adore it.

      I'm saddened and in love with your blue way -- with the blue way of presence in which you attend my readiness to live and die in this world.

      With the blue way in which the idea conducts you to gesture's inception -- you sense the great roaring you live, and you interpret and explain it for your kind and for us

      at the water's edge, the ear tuned to the revelations of a lily transmuting light's desire

      on a plain of shifting sands, and the measured turns of the wheel foretelling the idea-child and the event's first and final virtue.

      With the blue way in which you gather your thought

      -- the blue way you cast on that lunar trace, when man surrendered his smile to the stars.

      From the time before my beginning, I only keep from you the terror of being born and of giving birth, and the terror of being dead, that others die or are dead,

      because -- odd case of forgetfulness -- I no longer know your remote teaching.

      I no longer know what you instilled in me nor will I know it, even dead;

      it's an odd case of forgetfulness, blue way,

      and we'll shake and wobble until your kind and us and our kind and you pass into thou

      the one likeness there, waiting to uncode your living and dying.

      When you allow us and this beautiful world to wound you,

      and you pretend to stumble, or sleep, and feign to have been seen or hint that someone has spied a trace of you,

      and with a bolt of light you radiate fear and surprise into our world,

      we will come round to gaze out from the animal, from the dead, and from the living and from the guts of our world,

      and we'll never again forget. It will be redemption, blue way.

      The musician and the rifles, lightness, heaviness and the shade, the nicknames, the cotton and the cramp, hatred, the swindlers, the magpie, age and the padlocks, spelling and the café and the liars, the flea and ivory, the number, the bees, the vision and me, the tail, the gold and the shelves and the frail,

      we await the sign, eager to fuse into each other and continue the dialogue with you, blue way.

      May the days stretch on and the nights be hazy and the blowflies blessed with bearable life.

      May this be so and so much more

      -- may man cease to follow the animals and arrive at the human, the sublime, and the true

      -- may wool not be stolen from the animal and each and every being be left in peace.

      Now a scream is heard, screamed who knows why.

      It's not a human scream nor an animal's, but the scream of a thing

      -- its origin is here, and it seems unthinkable

      -- blue way, I am saddened and bewildered forever.

      It is my intention to cease to see myself and to leave off knowing myself, and I will eat myself, should you not be able to make yourself seen.


      Because the day nourishes dry dreams and wounds your angelical being,

      you will set off in search of night

      -- and I'll tell you that she likes to ask, like a mendicant, for the whole of life:

      she hardly ever takes pity.

      But you, with your incredibly tender way,

      are communicative, and you will move her in that vaulted light if you say:

      "I want death but not the dying"

      -- and those at rest beyond the fire will hear the startled word of your flight

      and seeing how they would have adored you, they won't want to know they are dead.

      And in this way you'll know the chimeras of the night

      and what is unspeakable of death in your shape,

      my joy: I am standing and with a fire in my hands.

      (At night, your white-fringed clothes reflect a music of cities and suns and allow another, denser vestment to be seen, which makes the bridges quiver and the voyages embark, and seats the night in your eyes).




      Under darkness, pain drives the ancient force with which you arouse the verdure's fragrance

      -- in the splendors the heart will lift from the mountains, and in the forgetfulness of great bells

      -- in the dilated and hardened poles of the hymns is the pivotal chord that shocks you into seeing:

      one pole of the magnet goes blank, and you adjust the cadence of your fingers to the smoke's leisurely climb.

      Under aloneness, at the hour of bewilderment and amazement, evening falls;

      toward great depths and displacements, the horizon bears your weight,

      and the dead one is ardent, worldly in the sea froth, in murmurings and in light

      -- and the water begins to boil, the prophecy makes the rounds.

      It shines in grottoes and on your lips, and the current in your dreams won't slacken,

      a bell's clapper separates you from night's camisole;

      I won't perish until you lay an egg in everlasting testimony to that current.



      Alive at the edge of language, the head floating in a body not there

      a finger in the fog

      the running water in the world of those who embroider their presence with a border of flax

      and another finger in the wind that swings the suns of a miracle named by summer and rain

      and the ancientness of light still unrobed, unseen

      then one night another finger twitching to a vague melody on the bridge

      and the heaviness of sobbing in the bouquet, bequeathed from offspring to offspring

      when the modulations and the fury of the gleaming and unyielding waters roll by

      but the bond calls you and calls you and another finger, sheathed in flame, prods and prods your heart

      -- you bat your eyes at the magical sign that orbits your body and licks at stubborn life

      -- you're on the way to a city, and someone straining and straining to be born snaps the lighter off

      and you eat his desire and the cauldron of a drum disenchants itself before your eyes.

      Fibers and sounds, scattered in the ground, find something of their first secret in you

      and the measured throb of nocturnal murmurs arrives triumphant

      one could say that the mill swelled and the lives were resurrected before the clouds,

      shed your husk, admit the genuine, and you will fly over the watery deep

      -- each May, each instant and each year it is possible to say whether the true water is occluded,

      whether the fire is hidden and burns you

      -- and so

      shed your husk quickly, because everything is shedding itself.


      There are hidden cities hiding cities in their hearts, and the first day their brilliance reigns, and the last day is a lost memory shining in man's eye.

      -- their streets make explicit the world and suggest its summit, and the spiral is fragrant with hair and skulls

      -- from you to me, from them to them, from all to all, the spiral comes and goes, and in the city it dehisces;

      a concise rain washes your brow as you sigh, and the pendulum's arc and the moist fountains return the scent to you, the smooth sea-code of dreams.

      The edifice of the echo liberates you from all sense;

      your serious happiness flows out behind you in an ecstasy of ancient voyage.

      A petrifying hand on your cheek, and anxiety, and the epistle and the minerals

      make music for the adoring animals who, to the cadence of your laughter and weeping, hang names on your attire

      -- and your hair leads you toward absence.

      And in those cities -- oh habitant! -- death is strong and manifold, and agony powerful; dreams surge from your blood

      -- they reveal the heavenly body of the forgotten letter -- the letter missing from the missing word

      -- and the luxury of blood spills over into cities where it is not possible to die.


      The water decants a hymn to freeze breath and shadow.

      Let your washed head stretch proportion this far, and I'll comb the sides of the sea

      and the lost fire glittering in the proud, the dead dampness.

      (In the distance of the abyss, abruptly, the night moth turned reflective, invisible and patient as the devotion and suppleness given off by its legs).

      One arrives, hides in not knowing he has arrived, and finds a roaring:

      it would seem to be your voice,

      but the suddenness of light and the smell of antiquity

      conceal the smile of its nascent ecstasy.


Jaime Saenz and Luis H.Antezana, 1979

Jaime Saenz with the essayist Luis H.Antezana, 1979




      I glimpse you

      -- if the beginnings of night have spilled, a glimmering welcomes me.        

      The moment you cross the blackness, a trumpet blast cancels you;

      you are the irremediable sign of the cities and the brilliances.

      You are on both shores, in me; in the far weaving you inhabit smoke and hill

      and the woven rain resembles what you've abandoned and what I will never inhabit.

      As soon as sorrow comes, I search for you in my sorrow.

      -- when I was a breath and an arena,

      where, what were you doing,

      you are inside yourself but in reality you would not be.

      You beg me, melancholically, to reshape you as a fountain, black-stockinged sorceress, lover, sometimes, of oblivion

      -- habitant who knows she doesn't exist, who doesn't elude seeingness and feelingness:

      it's hilarious, that I am and you are not.

      Your life without me, it's impossible to consider.

      May your voice be present; forever here,

      beyond whether I will hear it or not.

      Be present, always be.


      From the dead one, gazing from sublime heights at the twilight's last shudder,

      a faint heat has been left in you,

      the blue form's trace in the firm chord that rocks the wind with faint heat,

      it is in you.

      May the silence offer a bit of sweetness, break-off from forgetfulness

      so it might die in a forgetfulness

      and dilute itself in you and pass away in the pour of rain;

      and may all things be language unfolding at the sign of a sigh.

      And may a ship from the skies discover our flesh and our hurt.


      Don't play that music

      -- when it's cold, the forms crave an exhalation from your grace, a sibilance and a falling dew.

      The chasm of your weight is moist, and the sphinxes avert their eyes from you,

      if what surrounds you is yours and scrubs you clean, you eye them, being sphinx

      -- the surrounding watchfulness radiates from you in the alpha and omega of your symphonic life.


      I want to discover what wind carries you and what rain, and your vision's essence in the country of first causes

      -- I urge you to come and wake me, astound me.

      The night's transience compels and undoes me;

      my body is parceled out, and no one is able to see it or to see me.

      I lie down -- if I sigh, or touch, or look at myself, it all would end: transparency's hope,

      life itself; the promise of tresses and lights in your apparition

      and the welcome of the temples and the greeting of the songs.

      My voice acclaims a feat; the furious motion of the black hand writes that your avowal is fruitless.

      If you don't plan to sleep with the fishes, if you don't utterly change,

      the extravagant black music will plunge into water, and the city will flow away in a sibilation.


      Sink your lips into shared death, sheltered by the fingers above and below it,

      bury yourself in the unargued and unstated, in the half-light of those who die in vacillation

      -- for death comes not just from life, but also through vacillating.

      (Death, full and harmonic, has nothing to do with death by vacillation,

      and I don't mean that those who don't vacillate might be immortal.)

      If you don't sense a spider's scent and can't read the stillness, you die;

      but never if your brow were bitten, only so long as you didn't dream it was your own brow biting you.

      When you haven't vacillated, death waits for your brow to be bitten in order to receive you.

      Still, love leads me to clamor for your safekeeping in luminous echoes and universal tasks,

      in active and motionless masses that freeze and proffer joy.

      A wild clamor sustains your preservation, your particular time beyond temperature's sign.

      May my wish be engraved in solemnity, in warmth and in wombness.



      In the hour of the star's dying,

      my eyes will lock on the firmament that shimmered with you.

      Soundlessly and like a light,

      lay the transparency of forgetfulness

      on my path.

      Your breath returns me to the patience and sadness of the earth,

      don't divide yourself from evening's fall

      -- let me see, on the other side of you,

      what remains for me to die.


      You stay and stay in the fragrance of the mountains

      when the sun goes down,

      and it seems to me I can hear your breathing in the freshness of the shade

      like a pensive good-bye.

      At the threshhold of your leaving, fire-like, these clear images will yearn for you.

      They are rocked here and distantly by the evening's wind;

      I accompany you with the rustling of leaves; I watch for you the things you loved

      -- dawn will not efface your passing; you are visible


      In the furnace of your form my blood flows, in the air of dreaming

      you are the weather for aloneness

      -- a shadow sings in the water's depths for you, to the rhythm of my heart

      and in your gaze my eyes are quiet from the music

      borne by light's breath

      in the sky and in the darkness.

      Tonight I gather your form,

      the echo of your mouth at the core of a forgotten song

      -- and I embrace you.


      Come; I am nourished by your depiction

      and by your redolent melody,

      I dreamed of the star that could be reached with a song

      -- I saw you appear and couldn't grasp you; the song carried you an unsettling distance,

      and the remoteness was too great and your breath too faint to reach the light-burst of my heart in time

      -- my heart, drowned in a compassionate rain, fiercely efflorescing.

      Come, nevertheless; let my hand impress on your forgetting an unforgettable force,

      draw near to witness my shadow on the wall,

      come once; I want to fulfill my passion for good-bye.

You can also read
five shorter poems by Jaime Saenz
in this issue of Jacket

Kent Johnson’s author notes page gives more recent information.
Jacket’s ‘author notes’ provide direct links to various pages in the magazine that feature more of an author’s work, reviews of their books, and interviews.


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