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THE BLACK MASK
If matter flows a few eternities around itself,
like Ptolemy’s Ocean, returning by itself to its own source,
then by power of time, and not by gravitation, it is ruled,
and then our brains should hold the memories of faces
and of things, events, which we have never seen,
nor lived through. For memory of matter
is whole, and indivisible, and circular.
That’s why, I think, the moment I saw
that face that a shop window showed
of clay, shaped like a mask and black and polished,
no piece of art nor beauty in itself,
and not unique, but simply one of many casts,
I entered and I purchased it.
I took it home and looked at it. A low-cut brow,
with bulging eyes and traveling gaze, with lips
so clearly outlined and so thick, a nose quite fine -
no, no indeed, this face I’ve never seen,
not in the past, nor in the future, which I see in dreams
sometimes when I am flying at the limit of my speed.
And always, as I go somewhere, as if by high degree
I take it with me. Everywhere I stay -
at hotel, at dwelling of a friend, some other quarters,
the moment that I take it out and put it there
in order to be seen, and look into those eyes
that travel far from me,
and those lips that will not ever speak,
and see again this face
does not suspect my very being -
I know I’ve reached a place I’ve never really left.
© Stephan Gechev
© Don Wilson, translated
© E-magazine LiterNet, 23.06.2001, № 6 (19)
Hush, you Nightingales, Canton, Connecticut, 1993.