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Alfonso, you're watching me, I see it,
from that implacable plane, the dwelling place
of forevers and nevers lined up row by row.
(That night you slept, between your dream
and my dream, in the rue de Ribouté)
your unforgettable halfbreed hears you strolling
through Paris, senses you on the phone becoming silent
and picks up, on the wire, your latest act
taking shape, a toast
from the depths, by me, by you.

I'm still
buying "du vin, du lait, comptant les sous"
under my overcoat, so that my soul doesn't see me
under that same overcoat, dear Alfonso
and under the simple beam of the compound temple;
I still suffer but you, no more, never, brother!
(They've told me that in your centuries of pain,
beloved being,
beloved existing,
you made zeros of wood. Is it true?)

In the "boite du nuit" where you used to play tangos,
your indignant protege touched to the heart,
leading yourself, weeping
for yourself and for your enormous resemblance to your shadow,
Monsieur Fourgat, the owner, has grown older.
Tell him about it? Recount it to him? No more,
Alfonso; that's over now.

The Hotel des Ecoles is always open
and they still buy tangerines;
but I suffer, like I tell you,
sweetly, remembering
what we suffered together, at both our deaths
in the opening of the double tomb,
of that other tomb with your being,
and this mahogany one with your existence;
I suffer, drinking a glass of you, Silva,
a little pick-me-up, as we used to say,
and afterwards, well, we'll see what happens.

This is the other toast, among three
taciturn, diverse
in drink, in the world, in glass, how we drank
more than once to the body
and less than once to the mind.
Today is even more different,
today I suffer sweet, bitterly,
I drink your blood on behalf of Christ the firm
I eat your bone on behalf of Christ the yielding,
because I love you, two by two, Alfonso,
and I could almost say, eternally.

9 Oct 1937

César Vallejo
Translation by Sandy McKinney

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