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In memoriam

Brother, today I'm on the stone bench by the house,
where you have left us a bottomless emptiness!
I remember we used to play at this hour, and Mama
would soothe us, 'Now, boys...'

This time, I sneak away
as before, from all these prayers
at evening, and I expect you won't find me.
Through the parlor, the entryway, the halls.
Afterwards, you hide, and I don't find you.
I remember we made each other cry,
brother, in that game.

Miguel, you stole away
one August night, just before dawn:
but instead of laughing when you hid, you were sad.
And your heart's twin of those perished afternoons
is tired of not finding you. And now
a shadow falls on the soul.

Listen, brother, don't wait too long
to come out. All right? Mama might be worried.


César Vallejo, 1918
Translation by Sandy McKinney

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