Ya no compartirás la clara luna ni los lentos jardines. Ya no hay una luna que no sea espejo del pasado, cristal de soledad, sol de agonías. Adiós las mutuas manos y las sienes que acercaba el amor. Hoy sólo tienes la fiel memoria y los desiertos días. Jorge Luís Borges
You will no longer share the clear moon nor the slow gardens. There is not moon that is not a mirror of the past, a glass of solitude, a sun of agonies. Goodbye to the mutual hand and the foreheads that love brought close. Today you only have the faithful memory and the desert days. My translation.
When I was 8 my mother took me to an open casket wake of the young son of our neighbours who crashed his Vespa at a level train crossing. All I could see was a bandaged head and a pair of hands held together. I then understood that death and those who won the lottery were always neighbours and never us.
By the time I was 21, I buried my father. In 1972, my mother died in Rosemary’s and my presence. Death then became a personal exposure to my inevitable one.
When Rosemary died on December 2020 she and I knew we would
never meet again. This is something we knew deep inside. It is one of the reasons why my grief will not go away.
At the same time this idea of the inevitability of death was somehow softened, for both of us, by the fact we had lived in Mexico for 8 years. Mexicans talk about death and even make fun of it.
A year before my friend Abraham Rogatnick died (he told me he was going to pull the plug on his prostate cancer treatment) he gave me his Mexican papier-mâché skeleton which I subsequently named Pancho. Since then Pancho has resided on a lovely windsor chair in our dining room. Rogatnick attached a hangman’s noose to Pancho’s neck because he would then display him outside his home on 9th Avenue on Halloween. There is a connection with Rosemary as Rosemary also placed around Pancho’s neck the little bells she put around her ankles when she went ice skating.
Both Lauren and Rebecca have often posed with Pancho.
The photograph of my León, Guanajuato friend Ivette Hernández is my version of La Santa Muerte , the patron saint of drug traffickers in Northern Mexico.
My Mexican friend poet, novelist and environmentalist, Homero Aridjis, wrote a novel called La Santa Muerte.
Narcotraficantes, políticos, delincuentes, empresarios y policías rinden culto a la Santa Muerte, la imagen de la muerte violenta, para que los proteja de sus enemigos y les otorgue poder, impunidad y dinero.
Narcos, politicians, delinquents, businessmen, cops all worship the cult of la Santa Muerte, an image of violent death, so they will be protected from their enemies and give them power, impunity and money. My translation.