Senior Citizenship Fish Tales
Saturday, August 21, 2010
The last really good magazine assignment I got happened in June 2008 when Bob Mercer sent me to a Parksville resort to write and photograph a piece for his magazineVLM. Unfortunately he stopped publishing in March, 2009
. I never did write my piece. The resort was a beautiful one and Mercer urged me to take not only my wife but my granddaughters as few spa/resort articles ever mentioned children. Rebecca and Lauren had their own room and Lauren was particularly impressed by the fact that not only did they have their own flat screen TV but also a fridge with an ice maker. But there is one lingering memory of the trip which has served me as a cautionary warning.
It was at the cozy Fish Tales Cafe
that I had one of those moments that affect the rest of your life. Some of my Filipino cababayans
are known for uttering obvious remarks (with slight off putting changes with that special Filipino accent!) such as “You never cross the bridge until you get to the bidge.” Had I been with one of my cabahayans they would have immediately warned me.
While we were dining on our excellent fish and chips (Rebecca had lobster) I listened into a conversation at another table between two senior citizen couples who were obviously retired and on holiday. At the time I did not consider myself a senior citizen and much less one who was retired. Here I was with a beautiful youthful wife, two young girls who called me papi and thus some unobservant idiot might have misconstrued that I was their father. I had a job, a good magazine assignment. I did not see myself as soon being like the couples at the other table.
They were comparing notes on a cruise to Greece and a trip to Machu Picchu. There was a lot of “We did Machu Picchu so what are we going to do now.” It occurred to me that these two couples had experienced a superficial exposure to the great Incan ruins and had observed that the Parthenon was not very pretty as it was not well preserved.”
I stared at their shorts and their elaborate sports shoes and I vowed that I would never become like them.
Every couple of years I either get an email or a phone call from some long-lost relatives or friends I have not kept in touch with who inform me that they will be soon in Vancouver as they are taking a boat cruise to Alaska where they are all excited about meeting up with Eskimos. The first thing I tell the is about the Inuit but I immediately offer them some sort of hospitality and a quick Vancouver tour.
One of these long lost relatives was not so. It was my half-brother Eduardo from Buenos Aires. He is wealthy and if I had his money I would opt for a weekend at the Metropolitan in New York. But then I am a snob and living in Vancouver I take our scenery for granted. The passage to Alaska is exotic to many folks.
But I would never want to be on board a ship that is not really taking me to a destination that is going to be my destination. Nor would I want to be on board a floating palace and gorge myself with food or even consider shuffleboard. I am sure that by now shuffleboard has been superseded by cabin swapping.
In short do not want to become a senior citizen who will have people wish him, “Alex have a long and happy retirement.”
I photographed many of those events (retirement ceremonies/roastings for Canadian Pacific Limited for something like 15 years). I used to detest going to them. Many of them were at the Terminal City Club. It meant I had to wear a suit and tie. I would complain but Rosemary would look at me in the eye and convey silently, “We need the money and you must go.” After a while I realized that the pay was very good and if I could desensitize myself it was a piece of cake.
But it was difficult to desensitize myself to speeches where a boring CP Rail executive would say, “I have worked for this company for 40 years and I really never did like my job (Imagine working for 40 years and not liking your job!). What made it pleasant were the people.” He would then sit down and his fellow workers would lambast him with terrible secrets about his youth, tell him that now he would be at the mercy of his wife’s kitchen job jar. He would then be given a fishing rod or golf clubs and once (to my horror!) a rocking chair.
Had I been that executive, and many other like him, I would have gone home and pulled a Karl Christian von Langsdorf with a Luger.
These days Rosemary and I watch good movies or read good books. I putter in the garden and wait to hear from my daughters or from my granddaughters. I know that call will eventually come and I will have to show someone Stanley Park before I drop them of at the cruise ship terminal. But I vow, here and now, that no Eskimo will ever see my face nor will I ever do Alaska.
The Straight Cut
Friday, August 20, 2010
It must be obvious to most who read this that a few weeks ago when I was in Texas with Rebecca there was no way (and I had little will to proceed) I was going to post a blog every day from an internet café. As a matter of fact the Brothers of Holy Cross, at St. Joseph’s Hall in Austin (where we stayed) had a computer room with all the amenities. My former teacher, mentor and friend, Brother Edwin, Reggio, C.S.C. who is 78 is computer literate probably beyond my personal capabilities. He runs the university’s (St. Edward’s University) student debit card system and monitors and deals with all the companies that provide vending machines and products throughtout the increasingly large campus.
Perhaps the one major hurdle to posting my blog is the not easy interface between my iPhone and a computer that is not mine. You must have a computer that has iTunes installed in order to download from the phone. I decided it was much too much of a problem and went for the pleasant stress free, no-blog-today scenario.
It took me a week to post all the missing blogs. Posting one big one, “This is what Rebecca and I did in Texas” would have been cheating.
Now, not only have I caught up but a lack of action malaise is providing me with the time to blog for tomorrow, today. Inspiration for the blog came from my friend Tim Bray’s ongoing
It seems that Bray is saddled with the problem of only being able to cut in a straight line. Reading it brought me back memories of my making a sofa for our newly purchased house in Arboledas, Estado de México. The date on the photograph is precise. It was August, 1970. If it was mid August, our daughter Ale was 2 and I was 28.
At the time I had been looking at interior design magazines and I had been struck by a sofa much like the one in the picture. In those days white was most fashionable and the cushions were bright red.
From a departing American businessman I purchased a very nice bench saw that had what is now rare. It had a solid cast steel table. It was sturdy. I soon discovered blades that cut the wood neatly without tearing. In the picture you can see a Black & Decker sander that not only sanded orbitally but also in a linear manner. Because the sofa was made of plywood (I discovered the oddly-named but much cheaper one-sided plywood that was only finished on one side) I had to cover the seams with veneer. It a burst of inspiration (which made the finished sofa quite a handsome one) I decided to paint everything (even the back of the sofa) except the veneer. In those days I liked the look of lacquered wood. I purchased automobile lacquer. Since I did not have a spray gun I used a little device that I had that was used to spray a fixative on art works in which I had used pastels. It consisted of two little tubes that were hinged at one end. I would put one end inside a small glass bottle full of mixed lacquer and then using my lung power I sprayed the sofa with several coats of paint until the finish mimicked the smoothness of our refrigerator. I had used extra fine emery paper to achieve the glass finish.
My carpentry did not end there. On the left side of the third picture (Christmas, 1971, that’s my mother Filomena on the left and Rosemary is holding the just born (December) Hilary Anne) is a hexagonal table, also in white lacquer that had a frosted glass top so that it acted like a table lamp. The white frame containing one of my paintings, a wolf, which my mother maliciously said looked like a horse, as well as the other little frame and the one to display an antique pocket watch were also lacquered jobs of mine. The seoond picture in colour is from Christmas 1970.
In those years, 1970, 1971 and 1972 our neighbours would ring the bell and ask me if I wanted to go out and play volleyball on the court that had been painted on the street. Holes had been made on the edges of the sidewalk so that metal pipes could be inserted to hang the volleyball net. I made it a habit to decline the invitations as well as others to play dominoes on weekends. I remember that one of my neighbours, Rubén Chavez Almeida told me, “Some play and distract themselves with social games while you do so by building brick walls.” It took me a while to figure out his wise words and I soon put the bench saw away (by then my shop, which had a bathroom had been converted (the bathroom) and I found saw dust incompatible with clean negatives.
I withdrew from my carpentry projects and fully enjoyed the social interaction of our block (Colibrí or Hummingbird Street). Every few weekends it was our turn to host the male domino sessions at home. The drink was always rum-coke and I usually went to a nearby bakery to buy bolillo (the Mexican version of the French loaf) masa or dough with which I made my soon homemade pizza.
In our present life where social activity might be a short facebook message on my wall I miss those days which will surely not return.
Both the sofa and the hexagonal table made it to Vancouver. While still living in Burnaby Rosemary told me that my sofa was much too uncomfortable and we needed something new. In a rage I picked it up with the help of a neighbour (the sofa was heavy, I had made it solid) and we dumped it into a bin. Something in me died that day. When we moved to our present home in Athlone I brought along a nice bench saw I had purchased in Vancouver as well as a professional spray gun for truly good lacquer jobs. Alas I never used either of them. The hexagonal table could use a little of a sand job and a new coat of lacuer. Perhaps, soon?
That Unkind Cut
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Back in my 20s sometime in the early 60s happiness was retiring to a darkroom with a few negatives, Stan Getz Focus
on the reel to reel tape recorder, and an unopened box of 100 sheets of Agfa b+w photographic paper.
To get the drift of this blog it is important to understand that in photography there has always been an incompatibility of dimension. This incompatibility might have begun as competition between the French and the English. The French had their new-fangled metric system while the English relied on their imperial one. By the 1930s photographs, thanks to the influence of the British Empire were measured in inches. Large format cameras had plates or film in 4x5, 5x7, 8x10 and 11x14 inch sizes.
Incompatibility between the inch and the millimeter was unknowingly ushered in the 1890s when the original use of 35mm film (film with sprockets that is 35mm wide) was pioneered by Edison for his Kinetoscope a primitive moving picture system.
The 35mm film format was introduced into still photography as early as 1913 (the Tourist Multiple) but first became popular with Oskar Barnack's Leica in 1925.
A 35m negative is 35mm wide but each individual picture is 24mm wide by about 36mm long. For generations photographers have photographed their loved ones from head to foot (with little room at the top or at the bottom) to then find themselves dismayed when their 8x10 or 5x7s cropped them so parts of their heads were missing or the feet were cut off. A little investigation into the problem will reveal that an 8x10 inch photograph is a fatter rectangle than that of a 24 by 35mm one. One would define this as an incompatibility of aspect ratios. Because frames have been standardized for so long, unless you went to a custom framer you were stuck with odd sizes. This became even more pronounced when labs in the 60s came up with the concept of the full frame cropping of 35mm negatives. This meant that your 35mm negative (or slide) would be printed on to 8x10 paper with extra wide borders on the long side of the picture.
As photography of the 4x5 and 8x10 view camera (large cameras, usually with bellows) kind began to disappear in the latter part of the 20th century, the odd sized photographs gained in popularity even though to this day a box of 8x10 paper (be it photographic or ink-jet) is still a standard format.
Because by the 50s, 35mm film had surpassed the larger 120 film which was introduced by Kodak in 1901 for their Brownie No 2, this larger film has all but disappeared even though it is still made (I use it ). The film is called 120 not because of its size (it comes in lengths of 30 inches or twice that in its 220 format and is 2½ inches wide) but because of a Kodak designation number. Thus 35mm film is called 135 by Kodak.
I still use my Mamiya RB-67 which I load with 120 film. The camera provides me with 10 exposures that are 2¼ by 2¾ inches or 6x7cm). It is called the ideal size or ideal format as the aspect ratio is closer to 8x10 and little is cropped of the negative when exposed to 8x10 paper. I have never felt much liking for the Hasselblad’s (it also uses 120 film) 6x6cm square format because as a magazine photographer I find the rectangle a much more useful shape to work with.
Back to that first paragraph of being in a darkroom with a good negative and some music I would only add that the darkroom in question was not mine. I had yet to have one. I used one at the University of the Americas in Mexico City and there was another one that was leant to me by a wealthy female photographer. She owned a Beseler 4x5 enlarger that had a motor for raising and lowering the enlarger head. It was a dream. In those days, when I knew even less about photography that I think I know now, I had no idea of in camera cropping. I would shoot haphazardly and then crop in the darkroom using an easel (it holds the photographic paper flat) that had adjustable sides. Pictures that I had shot as verticals emerged, after a few hours as squares or horizontals. It was fun but frustrating. It was fun but expensive as I used lots of paper. After a while I learned at least one practical trick. I would shoot portraits giving lots of space over my subject’s head which allowed for the difference in aspect ratios between my Pentaxes 35mm format and standard 5x7, 8x10, 11x14 and increasingly ( I liked to print big) 16x20 photographic paper.
But by the early 70s I began to pride on the fact that I would crop with the camera. This meant that before I pressed on the shutter I made sure that everything in my picture was exactly what I wanted. I would then compensate slightly for the aspect ratio incompatibility.
It was only in the late 70s in Vancouver that I began to print my 35mm negatives full-frame and “float” them on 8x10 paper. It was about then that photographers devised the filed edge negative carrier. With a metal file these photographers (including this one) filed the metal enlarger negative carrier
so that the carrier would show the whole negative and a bit more. When we photographers printed with this method we did it for three reasons:
1. We liked to brag that we cropped with our camera.
2. It looked nice.
3. Since no two enlarger negative carriers could be filed in exactly the same way the look became most personal. It meant that the photographer had printed the negative.
This look faded away as film began to disappear and digital photography bypassed enlargers. Photoshop and other photo programs now provide photographers with a nostalgia for the past (or for photographers who ignore the original reason for it and simply like the look) with a filed-edge look that can be attached to the digitally taken picture. These would be the equivalent of attaching fake shoe strings to Velcro closed shoes.
Cropping or knowing how to shoot when one knows the picture is to be cropped is a most necessary skill in magazine photography. For covers (an interesting exception can be seen here
) the photographer has to allow room for the name of the magazine, side info and of late room (or an uniform dark or light space) for the price scan. Not doing this sort of thing could be lethal back in the pre-days to that most useful Photoshop device called the cloning tool. With this tool stuff can be added, even lower body parts or the top of a head!
For most of my years as a magazine photographer my pictures were routinely uncropped by art directors. The reason is that I always shot my pictures as horizontals and as verticals. You never knew when the art director would have a change of heart and the assigned two-page spread became a vertical page bleed (the picture went to all four edges of the page with no border). This photographer rarely made the mistake of not allowing or considering where the gutter (the division between pages) would fall on a person’s face in a two-page spread.
Alas all this knowledge is now for naught since I now rarely shoot for magazines.
But I find increasingly (to my sorrow) that I am beginning to crop after I shoot precisely because I crop in camera. This pertains exclusively to shooting nudes. I find that I have thousands of beautifully shot and in-camera cropped pictures that show bits and pieces that cannot appear in this blog. I learned my lesson about three years ago when the UBC Botanical Garden web site linked to my blog because of my plant scans. As soon as I started putting in racy pictures the link was intentionally broken by the learned folks at UBC.
I am told that I cannot publish pictures of my granddaughters hand in hand with nudes. This means that I must self-censor. My self-censorship breaks down sometimes as it did last week. One of my iPhone nudes showed a generous amount of glorious nipple. My subject pointed this out. I removed the picture immediately.
Of late, when I shoot nudes, I consciously snap a few that I know will past muster with that doppelganger censor and that is the case with the iPhone pictures featuring the black cat that covers what cannot show.
Included in today’s blog are pictures I took of Nina Gouveia (alas this excellent subject of mine is now in Spain) that I have cropped with my scanner so that you the viewer here will not be offended. If you have a good imagination you can imagine what is missing. Two of the pictures (in b+w) show the filed edge look of the 6x7 cm format (Nina with friend Bif, above, left) and the 35mm format (Quilla in an accidental double- exposure with a tea cup, right). The third b+w is a box camera scan of two negatives in which the film is indeed 120 but the format is not 6x7 but 6x9. Again it is Nina and Bif playing the inmates of an imagined house of prostitution in Mexico sometime in the 40s.
Today my journey into the darkroom is efficient and brief. I never crop and I don't miss that motorized Beseler 45. My Beseler 23C is just fine. I play no distracting music.
La Balas Del Diablo
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
If any of my readers have been poking around here of late you may have noticed that within a few hours I was able to locate three poems about mirrors by Jorge Luís Borges. Alas I have found no translations for any of them and I don’t plan to attempt an Adolfo Bioy Casares. It was Bioy Casares
who with the help of Borges (who was an ardent anglophile
) re-wrote into English part of the Borgesian output.
I had to find some poems about mirrors to serve as an excuse to place some of my latest mirror shots which I took last week in which I alternated my iPhone snaps with those taken with two conventionally (as in film) loaded Nikon
My granddaughters, daughter and son-in-law are off to the supposed wonders of Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm and Sand Diego Sea World. I suppose that Knott’s Berry Farm may have a shared significance with Jennifer Anniston. Both are famous for being famous. It was sometime around 1963 that my 8-year-old first-cousin, David Humphrey accompanied me to the Mexico City Zoo. I proudly pointed at an adult hippopotamus that was basking, semi-immersed, in a sunny natural-looking pond. My nephew complained, “He is not half as interesting as the one in Disneyland. That one moves more and makes more noise.” I tried to explain that the Disney version was a plastic animatron but to no avail. It was then that I decided I would never ever go to Disneyland on pure principle.
In 1975 we (Rosemary, Ale and Hilary) drove from Mexico City to Vancouver. We stopped in Los Angeles where I was going to stock up on new photographic equipment for the new chosen profession I had picked for myself for Vancouver. I dropped off the girls and wife at the front door of Disneyland and promptly went to buy my cameras.
But I should not be a party pooper. My granddaughters are girls (one a little one) and they must be allowed to be girls and enjoy being children. Not everything has to be “usefully cultural”. I just miss them as I am sure Rosemary misses long telephone chats with Hilary. Rosemary lent Hilary our Telus calling card but I have stressed to Hilary that her phone calls from California have to be brief.
All this brings me to the desperation and isolation I have been feeling of late. The trip to Texas is over. There is no immediate prospect of work. Perhaps, if enough people sign up at Focal Point I might be teaching Portraiture Through the Ages
and The Modern Portrait Nude
. My friend Ian Bateson is in England so I cannot have my weekly lunch with him or discuss politics in BC with him.
These current blogs are the result of this desperation/isolation with a tad of boredom. Not that I am bored. I have lots of interesting books to read. But I feel that during the day I must worry and fret about work (getting it). I must fret and worry about the used Chevrolet Malibu I am looking for (both in the Lower Mainland and in Washington State) to replace our leased Audi. Rosemary says she is depressed about losing Sophie. I tell her that we cannot afford another Sophie and that the Malibu, a mid-sized car will suit us fine.
This desperation/isolation/boredom with a tad of stress is causing me to do as we say in Spanish, “Cuando el diablo no tiene nada que hacer, con el rabo espanta moscas
,” or “When the devil has nothing to do, he swats flies with his tails.”
Last week I took some iPhone nudes
. One of the conventional camera pictures involving a mirror made it here
and that’s when my devilish boredom got me into my tattered Jorge Luís Borges – Obra Poética 1923/1977.
Last night (Monday, I am writing this on Tuesday morning) I thought of the little wooden mirror in our guest bathroom. I placed it on the scanner and put some of last week’s mirror shots underneath it. The scan showed I needed a larger (a medium format
) negative. So I went to my files and found the pictures of Jo-Ann the Thursday Girl who for some years has posed for me two or three times a year on a Thursday.
That resulted in this
. And I found the last of the mirror poems in the Borges book.
Today I looked at Jo-Ann’s file and noticed (I must beat on my own drum) that many of the pictures are good. There just does not seem to be a venue for them.
It was only a couple of months ago that I received a phone call from my ailing (Parkinson’s) friend Sean Rossiter. “I have been thinking about it these days. I think that your blog could serve me well as a platform for some of the stuff I want to write.” I, too, thought this was a good idea. Rossiter wanted to write a bit about civic affairs and of his problems in walking the area of Broadway and Granville with his difficult disease. But he has yet to write anything and I hope that he finds a window of opportunity ( a better day, perhaps) to contribute to my blog. But then Rossiter has said it so well, “The blog is an ideal platform.” It is an ideal platform for what you see here today.
I looked a these pictures where I tried to combine white tape with the nude female body. I could not find a rationalization and brought in the mirror. Most of the pictures cannot be posted here as their nudity might offend some. In fact you might note that in yesterday’s blog I used the Photoshop dodging tool to blur those offending private bits.
I looked at three frames, two of which had the strange human figures, outside on Robson by the Eaton’s/Sears wall. The figures, as I enlarged them made me think of that other Argentine writer and friend of my father’s, Julio Cortázar, whose 1959 short story collection, Las Armas Secretas
included a short story, Las Babas del Diablo
(literally, The Droolings of the Devil) inspired Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1967 film Blowup
. In that film David Hemmings (who plays a fashion photographer) is obsessed by the details of a negative he took. He believes he is observing a murder.
So here you have my little ceremonia in honour of Cortázar in which Jo-Ann and some white tape get together to create something I did not see the first time around. I think I must get into that fly swatting mode more often.
I use the word ceremonia because I have a volume by Julio Cortázar called Ceremonias
(1966/68) that compiles two volumes of short stories, his 1956 Final del Juego
with Las Armas Secretas
. For reasons that I have never been able to clear up there is an interesting typo. The index lists Las Babas del Diablo as Las Balas del Diablo, or the Devil’s Bullets! What would Antonioni’s photographer make of that?Jo-Annmore Jo-Annand more Jo-Annand even more Jo-Ann more Jo-Ann againnot enough?and that's it
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Yo, de niño temía que el espejo
Me mostrara otra cara o una ciega
Máscara impersonal que ocultaría
Algo sin duda atroz. Temí asimismo
Que el silencioso tiempo del espejo
Se desviara del curso cotidiano
De las horas del hombre hospedara
En su vago confín imaginario
Seres y formas y colores nuevos.
(A nadie se lo dije; el niño es tímido.)
Yo temo ahora que el espejo encierre
El verdadero rostro de mi alma,
Lastimada de sombras y de culpas,
El que Dios ve y acaso ven los hombres.
Jorge Luís Borges 1977
Monday, August 16, 2010
¿Por qué persistes, incesante espejo?
¿Por qué duplicas, misterioso hermano,
el movimiento de mi mano?
¿Por qué en la sombra el súbito reflejo?
Eres el otro yo de que habla el griego
y acechas desde siempre. En la tersura
del agua incierta o del cristal que dura
me buscas y es inútil estar ciego.
El hecho de no verte y de saberte
te agrega horror, cosa de magia que osas
multiplicar la cifra de las cosas
que somos y que abarcan nuestra suerte.
Cuando esté muerto, copiarás a otro
y luego a otro, a otro, a otro, a otro…
Jorge Luís Borges 1975
In the last few years I have taken many portraits (below, left, Vancouver actress/director Lois Anderson, and below, centre, my ex-student Cordelia) using a big mirror I purchased at Ikea. The mirror was the only useful and well-made piece of furniture I ever bought there.
When I let go of my studio in September my son-in-law Bruce Stewart helped me move some of the stuff and bring I home. While loading the mirror into his car he stepped on the mirror. “What shall I do with it?” he asked. “Throw it away I said,” as I felt an agony going through me. That mirror had been a special friend and a source of lots of inspiration.
A mirror, in fact ushered my self-awareness back in 1948. I was 6 and my mother had obtained through her friends at the Buenos Aires American Embassy a nice big bag of candy corn. There was nothing like it in Buenos Aires. I was much too young to appreciate how good our Argentine chocolate was. I simply had to have more of this candy corn but my mother would dish it out in small portions and then put the bag back in a large armoire she had in her bedroom. Because our house was small my bed was outside the bedroom, nestled in a corner of the living room. The bedroom, my father’s and mother’s, was simply out of bounds for me except for an important exception. I was commanded to have siestas by our housekeeper Mercedes and to ease me, in this task that did not want to do, I was allowed to sleep on my parent’s large bed. It was special.
As I lay in bed I could see the flickering of movement in the steel persianas
that were attached to the window/door that faced the back garden. As Mercedes hung clothes to dry, her movements would register (I was many years away from reading about Plato’s cave) as flickering shadows and bits of lights suggesting the surreal existence of a hot Buenos Aires summer afternoon. I could hear the cicadas.
It was during one of those hot afternoons, that a thought came to my head. I was going to help myself to all the candy corn I wanted. I got up and opened one of the armoire doors. I found the clear cellophane package and gorged myself. I noticed that there was a mirror on the inside of the door and I stared at myself. I went through a process that I will never forget (which had nothing to do with the chinelazos, or a whipping that I got from my other where she used a Filipino sandal, as punishment). I looked at the person in the mirror and I thought, “That is me. I am that person in the mirror. I am nobody else and nobody else is me. That’s me.”
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Yo que sentí el horror de los espejos
no sólo ante el cristal impenetrable
donde acaba y empieza, inhabitable,
un imposible espacio de reflejos
sino ante el agua especular que imita
el otro azul en su profundo cielo
que a veces raya el ilusorio vuelo
del ave inversa o que un temblor agita
Y ante la superficie silenciosa
del ébano sutil cuya tersura
repite como un sueño la blancura
de un vago mármol o una vaga rosa,
Hoy, al cabo de tantos y perplejos
años de errar bajo la varia luna,
me pregunto qué azar de la fortuna
hizo que yo temiera los espejos.
Espejos de metal, enmascarado
espejo de caoba que en la bruma
de su rojo crepúsculo disfuma
ese rostro que mira y es mirado,
Infinitos los veo, elementales
ejecutores de un antiguo pacto,
multiplicar el mundo como el acto
generativo, insomnes y fatales.
Prolonga este vano mundo incierto
en su vertiginosa telaraña;
a veces en la tarde los empaña
el hálito de un hombre que no ha muerto.
Nos acecha el cristal. Si entre las cuatro
paredes de la alcoba hay un espejo,
ya no estoy solo. Hay otro. Hay el reflejo
que arma en el alba un sigiloso teatro.
Todo acontece y nada se recuerda
en esos gabinetes cristalinos
donde, como fantásticos rabinos,
leemos los libros de derecha a izquierda.
Claudio, rey de una tarde, rey soñado,
no sintió que era un sueño hasta aquel día
en que un actor mimó su felonía
con arte silencioso, en un tablado.
Que haya sueños es raro, que haya espejos,
que el usual y gastado repertorio
de cada día incluya el ilusorio
orbe profundo que urden los reflejos.
Dios (he dado en pensar) pone un empeño
en toda esa inasible arquitectura
que edifica la luz con la tersura
del cristal y la sombra con el sueño.
Dios ha creado las noches que se arman
de sueños y las formas del espejo
para que el hombre sienta que es reflejo
y vanidad. Por eso no alarman.
Jorge Luís Borges 1960