from ‘Sunstone’ By Octavio Paz


a crystal willow, a poplar of water,

a tall fountain the wind arches over,

a tree deep-rooted yet dancing still,

a course of a river that turns, moves on,

doubles back, and comes full circle,

forever arriving:

the calm course

of the stars or an unhurried spring,

water with eyes closed welling over

with oracles all night long,

a single presence in a surge of waves,

wave after wave till it covers all,

a reign of green that knows no decline,

like the flash of wings unfolding in the sky,

a path through the wilderness of days to come,

and the gloomy splendor of misery like a bird

whose song can turn a forest to stone,

and the imminent joys on branches that vanish,

the hours of light pecked away by the birds,

and the omens that slip past the hand,

a sudden presence like a burst of song,

like the wind singing in a burning building,

a glance that holds the world and all

its seas and mountains dangling in the air,

body of light filtered through an agate,

thighs of light, belly of light, the bays,

the solar rock, cloud-colored body,

color of a brisk and leaping day,

the hour sparkles and has a body,

the world is visible through your body,

transparent through your transparency,

I travel my way through galleries of sound,

I flow among echoing presences,

I cross transparencies as though I were blind,

a reflection erases me, I’m born in another,

oh forest of pillars that are enchanted,

through arches of light I travel into

the corridors of a diaphanous fall,

I travel your body, like the world,

your belly is a plaza full of sun,

your breasts two churches where blood

performs its own, parallel rites,

my glances cover you like ivy,

you are a city the sea assaults,

a stretch of ramparts split by the light

in two halves the color of peaches,

a domain of salt, rocks and birds,

under the rule of oblivious noon,

dressed in the color of my desires,

you go your way naked as my thoughts,

I travel your eyes, like the sea,

tigers drink their dreams in those eyes,

the hummingbird burns in those flames,

I travel your forehead, like the moon,

like the cloud that passes through your thoughts,

I travel your belly, like your dreams. . .


From “World Poetry,” edited by Katharine Washburn, John S. Major and Clifton Fadiman (W.W. Norton: 1,338 pp., $45)