A Brief Fable About a Man

photo 2This week, I continue to explore the poetry of Chilean writer Nicanor Parra, who could be loosely described as the anti-Neruda anti-poet.

The poem below is one of the best I’ve read by Parra.

A Man

A man’s mother is very sick

He goes out to find a doctor

He’s crying

In the street he sees his wife in the company of another man

They’re holding hands

He follows a few steps behind them

From tree to tree

He’s crying

Now he meets a friend from his youth

It’s years since we’ve seen each other!

They go on to a bar

They talk, laugh

The man goes out to the patio for a piss

He sees a young girl

It’s night

She’s washing dishes

The man goes over to her

He takes her by the waist

They waltz

They go out into the street together

They laugh

There’s an accident

The girl’s lost consciousness

The man goes to telephone

He’s crying

He comes to a house with lights on

He asks for a telephone

Somebody knows him

Hey stay and have something to eat


Where’s the telephone

Have something to eat, hey eat something

Then go

He sits down to eat

He drinks like a condemned man

He laughs

They get him to recite something

He recites it

He ends up sleeping under a desk


Translated from the Spanish by W.S. Merwin

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