Brief Letter from Oscar Wilde to his Lover
for Laura Ruiz Montes
My dear little lover:
only alone can I write
I love you,
beneath the silence of silence,
in a house surrounded by night,
behind walls of fear,
their doors and windows condemned.
Like a thief,
like a pervert,
like a contagious patient
I flee the world in order to say I love you.
I who have loved light shining on light,
who follows the calm wake of water on water,
transparency of wind on wind,
hide from my own shadow.
I who have opened my hands with all their landscapes,
opened my breast, its surly tattoos,
taken my heart into the storm
and left it to the moon’s tides,
today I write ephemerally
what I must seal in memory,
because today my hands
will rip apart this sheet of paper
and every word will burn to ash.
Tomorrow it will all be an abyss of words,
music in your ears strummed by my voice.
My huge little lover,
great love made small by fear,
small world that doesn’t understand,
tiny world where the plain and simple love
of the man who loves you does not fit.
Reading Prison, 1896 – Matanzas, 1998
Translated by Margaret Randall
Originally published in World Literature Today 89, no. 5 (September 2015).
Alfredo Zaldívar (b. 1956, Sojo Tres, Holguín) is a poet and editor. He helped found Ediciones Vigía and now heads Ediciones Matanzas. Among Zaldívar’s books are Concilio de las aguas (1989), La vida en ciernes (2002), Esperando a Viernes (2009), Rasgado con las manos (2015), and Cuchillos en el aire / Knives in the Air (with translations by Peter Boyle, 2015).
Margaret Randall (b. 1936, New York) lived in Cuba from 1969 to 1980. In 1970 and 2011 she was a judge of the Casa de las Américas literary contest. Her books include To Change the World: My Years in Cuba (2009) and Haydée Santamaría, Cuban Revolutionary: She Led by Transgression, just out from Duke University Press.