(translated from the Spanish by Warren Falcon)
The year I almost became a Catholic
5 stars rose from your breasts in Spring.
My nest was a sudden disturbance in blue.
a floating head
adorned your white throat.
I fled from my boat after one
long night of fishing only to
arrive ashore with torn nets
and apparitions upon my knees.
Without will my cursing ceased.
I discovered I was speechless.
I learned to speak with my hands.
Curious circular clouds surrounded
particular heads without logic.
Genuflections strange rearranged
the air in front of my chest while I
sat upon or hid my left hand.
Purple became everything dear.
Roses diminished before your
bare feet treading upon a serpent,
a tourniquet of gold each ankle
Virgin stars minus 5 surrounded
your curved shape defiant of robes
meant to convey the holy restraining
in my groin.
Odd collections mounted in the attic
where I retired to cloister and wait.
Leaden pilgrimage up and down pointless
stairs accumulated distance.
My beard became a convention of lepers and bells.
clumps of hair
bits of flesh
sacks of ears
all were relics in the making.
I became an accountant listing and numbering each holy scrap.
I tried not to be critical but my eyes lied.
I could not confess except by pencil,
leaving notes and grease stains
for the priest to interpret.
Absolution my hope,
a mute vow was my prosthesis.
Then Spring returned.
My boat sank. All mended nets,
a year's work, were lost.
Nothing to do.
I return to you, a parenthesis in the sea of loneliness.
Each star, each breast, you have removed
in my absence, mourning made permanent,
scars upon your throat oddly fish-shaped.
Astonished, my voice returns, curses then caresses,
withered left hand free to unravel regret nerve for
nerve, the only net worth mending.
I reserve this one strange act from a year of orthodoxy,
to anoint your feet with tears.
I dry them with my hair, your outstretched arms
a beseeching beyond emptiness, your chest barren
but for my hands remembering the uses of prayer,
kisses but murmurs, rumored stars where swollen sails had been.