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        THE BEND

The 20-year-old inmigrant punk, penknife on
the neck of the Chilean, 25, only tourist out at that hour
The penknife is white like the windows at that penniless hour
and both their images overlap
a couple seconds. The lyrics of a song, a café
con leche, an injection, some corduroys that smell
like shit, a woman's nose, a summer tan,
the actual hands of someone drawing back a curtain.
Communion. He takes a step back and looks at his
attacker's face (he could just as well say: his guide).
Waves of broken words can't seem to come out of his
belly, a kind of haste to undress the younger
man he has in front of him and checkmate. Between
the arches of the Martorell plaza in Barcelona, he takes a step back
as if the game had never ended, maps from
15 years ago, desire that only manifests itself in a half-smile
And traces a pyramid, a buffalo, something like stars
the boy's black arm, but his penknife doesn't shine
because in the Chilean's mind it's already a key.

Roberto Bolaño
Translation from Laura Healy

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