“The Lover” (Luis Cerneda)

“The Lover”

The August night blurred the dark sea and the sky into a single vastness, from which the grayish line of the beach was set apart, like the beginning of an uncreated world. Along there, naked under my white clothes, I was walking alone, though my friends, swimming out in the ocean, were calling me to join them. And among all those voices, I could pick out one that sounded fresh and pure.

The sea still held the day’s heat in its breast, exhaling it in a warm and bitter breath that mingled with the night air. I walked a long while down the dark beach, filled with happiness, with drunkenness, with life. But I’ll never say why. It’s madness to try to express the inexpressible. Can words explain flame and its heavenly heat to someone who’s never seen or felt it?

Finally I dived into the water, which, barely disturbed by the ripple, with a calm motion drew me out to sea. I could see in the distance the grayish line of the beach, and the white spot of my clothes where I’d dropped them. When my friends came out of the water, calling my name in the night, looking for me near the pile of clothes, inert like an empty body, I watched them unseen from the darkness, as if from another world and another life we might be able to watch, already without us, the place and the bodies we loved.

—Luis Cerneda (trans. by Stephen Kessler)
—from Written in Water: The Prose Poems of Luis Cerneda

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