For Maria Kodama’s Other Borges


For the person that you will be,

                                                                        whom perhaps I might not understand.

                                                                                   - Jorge Luis Borges, Inscripción

                                                                                                 Historia de las noches

I. Her labyrinth


A fortnight after you died,

I sang your black bones back

to shape.

     In the silence I trusted

the dark from whence   

      you came.


Now, you are a figure conjured up

with light on this page,

       mere trick

of shadows.

   Who are you, Poet? 

Whose god can breathe you back

to flesh?



II. Orpheus Falls


Who has not heard the Poet’s lament

for one descended into dream’s dark


     Who has not heard the gods’

admonition, given with knowing smile—

Do not look back—

   last trick to play

on the body’s lighted book of memory?


Every single instance, the lover fails,


quick to usher the sought-after

back to the surface of time. He sings

to her, “Ascend with me!”—

               yet in a

moment’s breathlessness, hers, he

looks back and she’s undone,

charred bones

and ash.




III. Dream of the Waterclock


All those things were made perfectly clear

                                                                        so that our hands could meet.

                                                                             -Jorge Luis Borges, Las Causas



This is the symphony’s last movement

dripping in the old waterclock.

For each drop of water—in the manner

of the blind poet—I offer you seven


          1) hush of bamboo leaves

before the onslaught of storm winds;

                                                2) scent

of a golden pollen’s flight after a wild

bee danced the yellow roses;

                             3) first sheaf of rice

from the first season’s harvest after

the last typhoon;

                    4) fishing boats on the beach,

dawn silvering the catch in the nets;

5) threshold of sunset through which

my thoughts traverse to the morning

side of the world;

          6) last drop of black ink

from the calligrapher’s brush on silk,

on which is completed the release

of the beloved from death;

                         7) two hands folded,

fingertips lightly touching my forehead

in timeless greeting, as if you’re here

with me. Palpable,





Marjorie Evasco