from The Notebook of Dreams

Manuel Iris


today I made a furrow
down the center of the page
to leave a groove
that makes the accent
which opens you:

Smell of honey, open scar.

To be here, Mía
is to contemplate
how you come out of my veins,
through this line, flower and verse
in which I name you.

To find you, Mía, to speak to you
I walked alone from Catullus to the dawn
from Lautréamont to the birds
from Rilke to the graffiti

                              I visited
the beds of the elderly the love of the murderer
the untouched thighs and the tongue that licks them
by force

and I was the wound and the blow
I was the narrator and the devil. I was
the description of everything that exists—
the ugliness the one who drinks it
with the pleasure
of beautiful brothers and sisters

but your body Love has not been spoken      you aren't
in Bonifaz      nor are your cheeks lit
by the light of Caravaggio      the love
of Fra Filippo
you are not in Mingus
nor in rumba
nor in the blood which beats through my body
when sweat evaporates.

               Your beauty didn't exist.

It is the first time that anyone has spoken you
and I am he who loves for the first time. 


           Don't think that I'm wooing you.
               Angel, and even if I tried to, you wouldn't come. For my call
               never comes close to you
                              Rilke, Duino Elegies


You refuse to destroy me. Your flesh
acquires—in front of me—a heat
less mortal. My heart
attests to its twofold fear
of looking at you and of not looking at you. Fear
of mortal eyes.

I loosen my voice
and am grateful from your dress:
that you don't shine the light of your terrible skin
on all my defects,
that you're not leading me to a death from light.


Become your presence, come
to syllables of flesh and lamentations
in order to suggest your feet
when I, impetuous
            call your name
conceived before
you were aware
            —more beautiful than the angel
and as terrible—
that you are going to wilt.


Perhaps you are confused, perhaps
eternal, the sound of your feet
has made the evenings silent
and your womb's hiding
brought the night.

In any case, angel of flesh
light of flesh, skin of flesh
I can't resist
your nakedness which is the beginning
and end of everything: eternity is too much.

Your presence, if mortal, is a flame
that consumes everything: naked you are lethal,

and you don't listen to me.


I am not calling you, clear flame
because I don't sing in the tones needed to reach your ears
and because my words—the best of them—
burn to ash upon brushing against you
                    and although I know
because it is true
because you are so far away
because our two natures
are so cruel
that this poem will never reach you
I throw it towards your skin,

I give it to the fire. 

Don't be ridiculous. Who would like
to be named Mía? I belong to myself in less obvious ways
and am called Inés. My name is Inés
and I have a say in this matter.

This book isn't yours
and it's not important to me what she says, your reader
(she is certainly your reader) who hadn't
read this line
because you hadn't written it
when she said: I'm not even your reader.

This poem isn't yours, Manuel Iris, don't be childish.

You don't know how to write and don't have the right
to name me. 

Angels don't exist. I am made of words
and can't hurt you,
though I do.

You never stop lying, juggling
that rhetoric founded in our two natures
and pushing me away, sapping my will.

What would happen if I wanted to walk around naked?

When I go to the park
I don't want to see you there because you can't resist me
and honestly
I am not for these things.

My flesh, though made of words
asks for flesh. Angels don't exist.

My name is Inés
and I have a say in this matter. 

Watching Her Sleep

           I have read in your ear that the straight line doesn't exist.
                              Gilberto Owen

Like my voice, my tongue seeks
the labyrinth of your ear
and I write to you and know very well
that there is something—there is a place—more beautiful
than your womb
though I have never seen it.

Instead, they reveal themselves
—deliverers of foam, cubs of light—
your sweetbread feet.

And not knowing how you appeared, not having lived
at the time that your back was the rose, open light
of what you mean.

Outside I hear something.

Outside of the poem a song tells you something
more beautiful than your skin
but also more alive: a caress: tongue underneath
sound underneath the letters
in the act of looking for you.

When did you pierce through me? When was your light
—fire, burning—nailed to my chest?

Now I can write a verse in which you never die.

A chalice, a pitcher, something which can contain
a mad wine, dancing, fruit
            flesh moving
to enter other flesh.

Believer of your way, in my prayers
I have decided not to give in to the language of your navel,
                                                            to the summer flowers
of your nipples, to all of your scents.

Today I don't want to die: I don't want to see the river
that sleeps in your wrists. I don't want to walk
the way in which you spread your skin until your skin
is the skin of everything that exists.

Tree of myself,
I am approaching your most fertile region. 

translated from the Spanish by Matt McBride