All night I hear the noise of water sobbing. All night I make night in me, I make the day that begins on my account, that sobs because day falls like water through night.
All night I hear the voice of someone seeking me out. All night you abandon me slowly like the water that sobs slowly falling. All night I write luminous messages, messages of rain, all night someone checks for me and I check for someone.
The noise of steps in the circle near this choleric light birthed from my insomnia. Steps of someone who no longer writhes, who no longer writes. All night someone holds back, then crosses the circle of bitter light.
All night I drown in your eyes become my eyes. All night I prod myself on toward that squatter in the circle of my silence. All night I see something lurch toward my looking, something humid, contrived of silence launching the sound of someone sobbing.
Absence blows grayly and night goes dense. Night, the shade of the eyelids of the dead, viscous night, exhaling some black oil that blows me forward and prompts me to search out an empty space without warmth, without cold. All night I flee from someone. I lead the chase, I lead the fugue. I sing a song of mourning. Black birds over black shrouds. My brain cries. Demented wind. I leave the tense and strained hand, I don’t want to know anything but this perpetual wailing, this clatter in the night, this delay, this infamy, this pursuit, this inexistence.
All night I see that abandonment is me, that the sole sobbing voice is me. We can search with lanterns, cross the shadow’s lie. We can feel the heart thud in the thigh and water subside in the archaic site of the heart.
All night I ask you why. All night you tell me no.
Alejandra Pizarnik, “[All night I hear the noise of water sobbing.]” from The Galloping Hour: French Poems. Copyright © 2018 by Myriam Pizarnik de Nesis. Copyright © 2018 by Patricio Ferrari. Copyright © 2018 by Patricio Ferrari and Forrest Gander. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
Linda Vachon art:
Alejandra Pizarnik was born in Buenos Aires to Russian Jewish immigrant parents. She studied philosophy and literature at the University of Buenos Aires before dropping out to pursue painting and her own poetry. In 1960, she moved to Paris, where she befriended writers such as Octavio Paz, Julio Cortázar, and Silvina Ocampo. Considered one of mid-century Argentina’s most powerful and intense lyric poets, Pizarnik counted among her influences Hölderlin and, as she wrote in “The Incarnate Word,” an essay from 1965, “the suffering of Baudelaire, the suicide of Nerval, the premature silence of Rimbaud, the mysterious and fleeting presence of Lautréamont,” and the “unparalleled intensity” of Artaud’s “physical and moral suffering.” Pizarnik’s themes were cruelty, childhood, estrangement, and death. According to Emily Cooke, Pizarnik “was perennially mistrustful of her medium, seeming sometimes more interested in silence than in language, and the poetic style she cultivated was terse and intentionally unbeautiful.” Her work has continually attracted new readers since her suicide at age 36.
Pizarnik published several books of poetry during her lifetime, including: La tierra más ajena (1955), La última inocencia (1956), Las aventuras perdidas (1958), Árbol de Diana (1960), Extracción de la piedra de locura (1968), and El infierno musical (1971). She also published the prose essay “La condesa sangrienta” (1971), a meditation on a 16th-century Hungarian countess allegedly responsible for the torture and murder of more than 600 girls. Pizarnik’s work has been translated into English in the collections Alejandra Pizarnik: Selected Poems (translated by Cecilia Rossi, 2010) and Extracting the Stone of Madness (translated by Yvette Siegert, 2016).