Julio Cortázar: “If I Have To Live Without You”

If I Have To Live Without You

If I have to live without you, let it be bloody and hard,
cold soup, broken shoes, or in the midst of richness,
let there rise up in me the dry branch of a cough,
barking your disfigured name, the foaming vowels,
let the bedsheets stick to my fingers,
let nothing give me peace.

I will not learn to love you better,
but dislodged from my own happiness
I will know how much you gave me
just by sometimes being near.

I think I understand this, but I just fool myself.
There will have to be frost upon the doorframe
so the homeless man huddling in the hallway
might understand the light from the dining room,
the tablecloths, the aroma of bread
passing its brown hand through the crack.

As far from you as one eye from the other,
from these afflictions I have come to suffer
will arise the gaze that finally deserves you.

Julio Cortázar

Translated from Spanish by Paul Weinfield, © 2017
Image by Kyle Thompson

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