Enrique Lihn: “Six Solitudes”

Six Solitudes

The unending loneliness from which others drink
at happy hour
is not my cup, but my grave.  I bring it to my lips
and flail within it till I slip from sight
into its morbid waves.
Loneliness for me is not a caged bird but a monster,
as if I were living with an insane asylum.

Chaste woman, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you:
a heart is either devoured or cast away.
It is neither a vase of flowers nor a poem.
And you were near, so near to catching me,
but your body slipped behind.
My heart cannot be kept in your little box
along with earrings and some photographs.
Anyway, someone will give you a better present soon.

Everyone’s waiting for war but me.
The housewife is waiting for war
with the invading rats.
Kids are waiting for the future,
for the war ahead.
Men walk the warpath
with banners and slogans.
All but me, who am waiting for what?
Waiting for poetry.
Waiting for nothing.

Life on the other side of a woman.
I’m talking about a kind of suicide
on the edge of madness
and, for some reason, time keeps on passing,
as the poet might say: in spite of her.
Here in this city, in this honeycomb of glass,
in my hermit’s cell,
I steal some sense from the anguished hours,
perishing in the sterile work of a poet,
in his laborious impotence.
With no woman, with dread,
just drudging on ahead.

Next to this chaste woman who gives me her sweetness
to drink till I am totally depleted,
like wax tropical fruit;
love nearly made in the likeness
and image of what it ought to be,
but in fact, just a talking doll
and a dangerous game
that never bursts into real fruit.

imbued with everything that exists,
good or bad, it really doesn’t matter.
Large accommodating sponges.
They are my greatest resentment,
the secretion of my bitter glands,
my solitude, my daily bread.

Enrique Lihn

Translated from Spanish by Paul Weinfield, © 2015
Photo by Lee Friedlander

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