The Mirror

Jose Angel Valente

Today I saw my face, so unfamiliar,
so strange  and fallen
in this mirror.

It has grown hard and so changed with its years,
its whiteness, its sharp cheek bones
the blade of the nose between its teeth,
its tired, house broken eyes,
its routine with no faith, only routine.
I touched its temples:  a being still
beats in there. A being kept on beating. Life, oh life!

I begin to walk. This face was once
a child’s too, another time, with mother near.
With fragile toys it was such a child’s,
in the rainy, bustling house,
in the play ground
–foolish angels–
city child with hoop and trees.

But now I look at myself –with dumb surprise,
glacial surprise alone in this mirror–
and where am I, I say,
and who is looking at me
out of this face, this mask of no man?

El espejo
José Angel Valente
Will Kirkland, translation