l HIS MANNER OF LIVING IN OLD AGEfrom the Spanish of Baltasar del Alcázar (1530−1606)
You wish, Señor, to know how I
–after having lived so long
that I’m no longer fit or strong–
am living life and getting by.
I will inform you right away,
because it’s not a lengthy tale
and I would please you without fail,
and certainly without delay.
Every daybreak, on the dot,
when sunbeams make their first approach,
I’m served an egg that’s always poached
and always soft and always hot.
Then two modest swigs of what
I call “Elixir Most Divine,“
the Lord Himself served up as wine
in morning’s first communion cup.
Later, when my glass is blessed
by southern sunlight, and its sheen
results from being in between
the yielding east and the waiting west,
they give me, baked up perfectly,
a delicate yet ample bird,
along with a sip, two sips, a third,
of liquor –for longevity.
Then as the evening star goes down,
plunging back into the ocean,
giving up by that swift motion
local kingdom and renown,
they bring me yet more food to eat,
tostadas cooked in sugared wine
that briefly makes me feel quite fine
and makes my flagging heartbeat beat.
Then they come and close my door
so I can fall asleep and dream
that I am not the man I seem
but rather who I was before.
Until, again, the sun goes up,
and they inform me how I slept,
and I inform them I’ll accept
Divine Elixir in my cup.
This is how a house is old:
It starts to fall. To make it stop,
I lean it up against a prop,
delay what cannot be controlled.
And all is vain, all artifice.
The props I use to keep me hale
will all too soon, I realize, fail,
and flatten out the edifice.
(originally published in Redactions, Issue 2)