1.08 I Was Here
by Nicolás Ruiz
translated into English by Misha Davidoff
Some waves try to lick the occupied desk.
The rather unnatural light is from a distant beach and no one understands the function of lamps.
He who writes at night is beyond the sand and I see him from an infinite distance.
It tempts me to say they were the last waves of the night, but night does not mark the hours of the waves.
Sometimes I think the nocturnal waves are different from the waves of day.
They say it’s the effect of the moon on the tides.
That racket at night—it’s the waves, I think—released of their daily duties, recalling how the ancient sea
bellowed, demanding sacrifices.
Night does not mark the hours of the waves.
There’s no first or last wave.
The waves always were.
When we pass among the seas, securely shod, through baths of pitch, we cut the waves into
Because of us the waves have an order and a time, an artificial frame in the eternal coming and
going of the lumbering masses.
The ship’s hull gives the waves the hours, but there never was a first wave.
Never a first gust of wind, either;
never a first breath lost in the air as it traveled toward the ear;
never a word that split the silence.
Shut up Adam,
can’t you see you’re killing us?
We gave the waves time and the wind
we provided frames, that it may be seen;
we transformed windows, that a world may arise from houses,
the fan’s blades, that we may catch the sun where it sets,
the cages, that they may shelter us from the speed.
Clumsy earthen hands that would build columns in the rain;
clumsy attempts that would change combs into honey
and trees into fruit.
With every wave that returns, with every veil that is lifted, with the sheets’ every fold that recalls
the ship-parted sea, I see myself here.
From afar I come listening to the sea and the word of this Adam, who is killing us.
The first wave was the first wave I saw, and the last will be the last I see.
When I see it, will I know?
When will I feel the wind’s last blow?
Where’s the sense in these hands that shape sense?
I go out walking.
The variegated rain runs the ink, the path fades after my footsteps, the coast loses the last light
of the night, and what exists eternally forgets me.
A message arrived from afar:
It traversed the tongue,
the veil of sierras and the rain of ones,
crossed the history of the seas,
felt the touch of the wind when as it began its tragic rounds,
heard the first word that was said.
A message arrived from afar and pulled itself across the sand,
came from afar between desks and ships and the waves without hours.
A message came from afar, that it may dissolve with me.