Poem of Quantity
---by Jorge Luis Borges
I think of the stark and puritanical sky
with its remote and solitary stars
which Emerson so many nights would look at
from the snow-bound severity of Concord.
Here, the night sky overflows with stars.
Man is too numerous, Endless generations
of birds and insects, multiplying themselves,
of serpents and the spotted jaguar,
of growing branches, weaving, interweaving,
of grains of sand, of coffee and of leaves
descend on every day and recreate their minuscule and useless labyrinth.
It may be every ant we trample on
is single before God, Who counts on it
for the unfolding of the measured laws
which regulate His curious universe.
The entire system, if it was not so,
would be an error and a weighty chaos.
Mirrors of water, mirrors of ebony,
the all-inventive mirror or our dreams,
lichens, fishes, and the riddled coral,
the clawmarks left by tortoises in time,
the fireflies of a single afternoon,
the dynasties of the Auraucarians,
the delicate shapes of letters in a volume
which night does not blot out, unquestionably
are no less personal and enigmatic
than I, who mix them up. I would not venture
to judge the lepers or Caligula.
The fallen bolume, hidden by the others
from sight in the recesses of the bookshelves,
and which the days and nights muffle over
with slow and noiseless dust. Also the anchor
of Sidon, which the seas surrounding England
press down into its blind and soft abyss,
The mirror which shows nobody’s reflection
after the house has long been left alone.
Fingernail filings which we leave behind
across the long expanse of time and space.
The indecipherable dust, once Shakespeare.
The changing figurations of a cloud.
The momentary but symmetric rose
which once, by chance, took substance in the shrouded
mirrors of a boys kaleidoscope.
The oars of Argus,
The sandy footprints which the final wave
as though asleep erases from the beach.
The colours of a Turner when the lights
are turned out in the narrow gallery
and not a footstep sounds in the deep night.
The other side of the dreary map of the world.
The tenuous spiderweb in the pyramid.
The sightless stone and the inquiring hand.
The dream I had in the approaching dawn
and later lost in the claring of the day.
The ending and beginning of the epic
of Finsburh, today a few sparse verse
of iron, unwasted by the centuries.
The mirrored letter on the blotting paper.
The turtle in the bottom of the cistern.
And that which cannot be. The other horn
Of the unicorn. The Being, Three in One.
The triangular disk.
in which the Eleatic arrow,
motionless in the air, reaches the mark.
The violet pressed between the leaves of Becquer.
The pendulum which time has stayed in place.
The weapon Odin buried in the tree.
The volume with its pages still unslit.
The echo of the hoofbeats at the charge
of Junin, which in some enduring mode
never has ceased, is part of the webbed scheme.
The shadow of Sarmiento on the sidewalks.
The voice heard by the shepherd on the mountain.
The skeleton bleaching white in the desert.
The bullet which shot dead Francisco Borges.
The other side of the tapestry. The things
which no one sees, except for Berkeley’s God.
Behind Stagg you can see a church spire and we are heading a few blocks past it tonight.
Same church below, up close.
No matter how many times and angles I took a picture of this church, up close, it always came out like this, like talk about illumination...
House of Payne hanging out before a group show. The painting is by Marty, one of Stagg's good friends.
Looking up at the outside of The Loop train platform structure. We are on our way for drinks downtown.