Juan Matos
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394 Spanish Juan Matos (b. 1956) The Illusion of Memory On a phrase by García Márquez The exile is not one man alone. He is the man who departed and the man who arrived. The man who departed, departed, and left behind all that was left, which, being left, nevertheless is not there. Where? His garden. His school. His people . . . Where? The man who departed, departed, but those others . . . Where? The man who departed departed alone. Alone. But with everything! The man who arrived, arrived, and with him, himself. The man who arrived came alone. But in his eyes he brought everything. Everything. His life on his back. The man who arrived arrived, and with him, himself. But he came alone. Alone . . . only himself. Juan Matos 395  The Night Was a Pretense of Night We, those we were, are no longer the same. —Pablo Neruda The night was a pretense of night and you the simulacrum of the woman I dreamed nightly but I was not the man I had been that night nor the one you wished for. Like a slender necklace reduced to words I slipped from your altar toward oblivion like paper scribbled with poems that could not fill the void in your breast or crown your waiting. In this being without being—surf without sand— I live without living, tormenting your heart like death that gnaws but will not finally sever the absurd and empty hours. The night was a pretense of night and I the not-I sent to punish you and sentenced to the shipwreck and the pain of being no more than the solitude of your nights. Life was a pretense of life and I the attempt unmade, the unforged agonizing arrowhead—deep wound forever unhealed despite its silence. Rhina P. Espaillat, 2011 ...


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