Pedro Salinas y Serrano

(1891-1951 / Spain)

Deaths - Poem by Pedro Salinas y Serrano

First I forgot you in your voice.
If you were talking to me now,
here by my side,
I would ask, “Who’s there?”

Then your step became unfamiliar.
If a shadow—even one of flesh
and blood—escapes in the wind,
I can’t tell if it’s you.

You shed your leaves slowly
in the face of one winter: your smile,
your eyes, the color of your clothing, the size
of your shoes.

More leaves:
your flesh, your body fell away,
until all that was left was your name: seven letters.
And you went on living,
dying, hanging on
to those letters with body and soul.
Your skeleton, the remains of it,
your voice, your laughter, those seven letters.
And then your body alone uttered them.
Your name slipped away from me.
Now those seven letters drift unattached,
unknown to each other.
Advertisements go by on streetcars; your letters
light up the night with their colors,
they travel on envelopes spelling out
other names.

You will wander there,
dissolved, undone, irretrievable,
in the name that was you,
risen up
to some crazy heaven,
some abstract glory in the alphabet.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 22, 2010

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