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THREE THINGS

from the Span­ish of Bal­tasar de Alcázar (15301606)

There are three things my cap­tive heart
for­ever dotes upon:
beau­ti­ful Inez, smoked ham,
and egg­plant parme­san.

Oh lovers, it was sweet Inez
whose power over me
was such I actu­ally despised
what­ever was not she.

She made me sense­less for a year.
In truth, I was far gone,
until one day she served me ham
and egg­plant parme­san.

Inez was first to win my heart,
but now I’d be hard-​pressed
to choose among the three of them
the one I love the best.

In taste, pro­por­tion, and in weight,
I’ve noth­ing to go on:
I love Inez, I love smoked ham,
and egg­plant parme­san.

Inez can boast of beauty,
the ham of South­ern Spain,
the ten­der aubergine can boast
of Span­ish soil and rain.

The com­pe­ti­tion is so close,
no win­ner can be drawn.
They all are one. Inez, the ham,
the egg­plant parme­san.

At least, now that she knows that I
love other things as deeply,
Inez might sell me favors much
more often and more cheaply,

since there is now a coun­ter­weight
for her to reckon on:
a lus­cious slab of Span­ish ham
and egg­plant parme­san.


(orig­i­nally pub­lished in the Rain­town Review, and sub­se­quently pub­lished in Per Con­tra. Issue 24)