Tuesday, August 28, 2012

¿Aguila o Sol?

Everyone had left the house.  At about eleven I noticed that I had smoked my last cigarette. As I did not wish to expose myself to the wind and cold, I searched every cranny for a pack, without finding one.  There was nothing else to do but put on my overcoat and go downstairs (I live on the fifth floor.) 

The street, a beautiful street of tall buildings of grey stone and two rows of bare chestnut trees, was deserted.  I walked some three hundred meters against the freezing wind and yellowish fog, only to find the shop closed.  I directed my steps toward a nearby café where I was sure to find a little warmth, some music and above all cigarettes, the object of my exit.  I walked two blocks more, shivering, when suddenly I felt – no, I didn’t feel : it passed, quickly : the Word.  

The unexpectedness of the meeting paralyzed me for a second, expecting to give it time to return to the night.  Recovered, I chased and grabbed it by the tips of its floating hair.  


I pulled desperately at those hairs that stretch toward the infinite, telegraph wires that move out with a landscape glimpsed, sign that rises, tapers off, stretches out . . . I was alone in the middle of the street, with a red feather between my livid hands.

Octavio Paz, Trabajos del Poeta (Works of the Poet)(1949), excerpted from ¿Aguila o Sol? (Eagle or Sun) (translated by Eliot Weinberger), New York, October House Inc., 1970.

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