futuring with julio cortázar

two personal notes

I want to first acknowledge and show my support for anyone suffering and struggling due to Hurricane Harvey. In my world, I have been checking in with my family in Corpus Christi since last Thursday. Everyone is safe there; struggled without power from last Friday to Wednesday, but safe. I have done my best to reach out to my Texas friends and other family, and only wish I had more hours in the day. Thank you to everyone who has reached out and shown me and my family support! It means a lot to come together in the face of such disaster. I spent a lot of time thinking of the various hurricanes I lived through as a child and teenager in Corpus, evacuations and refuge sought.

In the midst of the stress and tension of the above, I also participated in my first convocation as a professor at Linfield College as well as my first week of teaching. It was also my birthday last week – so, y’know, things were interesting, ha. I spent the eve of my birthday cleaning house, sweeping and mopping through midnight, the whole time worried about my family.

AerialCorpusChristi
corpus, my corpus

*

This quick paraphrase of the fraught mix of light and dark times that have been my last few weeks is mirrored, in a way, in this week’s poem by Julio Cortázar. In “El Futuro/The Future,” Cortázar does a great job of creating a poem of love and affection that also acknowledges the tenuous and mortal circumstances through which love is found between people. In considering a world without their “you,” the speaker creates a space of presence. By the end, the poem stands as a testament to the feelings and meaning that the missing always leave us with.

The Future – Julio Cortázar

And I know full well you won’t be there.
You won’t be in the street, in the hum that buzzes
from the arc lamps at night, nor in the gesture
of selecting from the menu, nor in the smile
that lightens people packed into the subway,
nor in the borrowed books, nor in the see-you-tomorrow.

You won’t be in my dreams,
in my words’ first destination,
nor will you be in a telephone number
or in the color of a pair of gloves or a blouse.
I’ll get angry, love, without it being on account of you,
and I’ll buy chocolates but not for you,
I’ll stop at the corner you’ll never come to,
and I’ll say the words that are said
and I’ll eat the things that are eaten
and I’ll dream the dreams that are dreamed
and I know full well you won’t be there,
nor here inside, in the prison where I still hold you,
nor there outside, in this river of streets and bridges.
You won’t be there at all, you won’t even be a memory,
and when I think of you I’ll be thinking a thought
that’s obscurely trying to recall you.

translated by Stephen Kessler in Save Twilight: Selected Poems (City Lights Books)

El Futuro – Julio Cortázar

Y sé muy bien que no estarás.
No estarás en la calle, en el murmullo que brota de noche
de los postes de alumbrado, ni en el gesto
de elegir el menú, ni en la sonrisa
que alivia los completos en los subtes,
ni en los libros prestados ni en el hasta mañana.

No estarás en mis sueños,
en el destino original de mis palabras,
ni en una cifra telefónica estarás
o en el color de un par de guantes o una blusa.
Me enojaré, amor mío, sin que sea por ti,
y compraré bombones pero no para ti,
me pararé en la esquina a la que no vendrás,
y diré las palabras que se dicen
y comeré las cosas que se comen
y soñaré los sueños que se sueñan
y sé muy bien que no estarás,
ni aquí adentro, la cárcel donde aún te retengo,
ni allí fuera, este río de calles y de puentes.
No estarás para nada, no serás ni recuerdo,
y cuando piense en ti pensaré un pensamiento
que oscuramente trata de acordarse de ti.

*

Happy futuring!

José

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