Variations on a Text by Vallejo

Me moriré en Paris con aguacero ...

I will die in Miami in the sun,
On a day when the sun is very bright,
A day like the days I remember, a day like other days,
A day that nobody knows or remembers yet,
And the sun will be bright then on the dark glasses of strangers   
And in the eyes of a few friends from my childhood
And of the surviving cousins by the graveside,
While the diggers, standing apart, in the still shade of the palms,   
Rest on their shovels, and smoke,
Speaking in Spanish softly, out of respect.

I think it will be on a Sunday like today,
Except that the sun will be out, the rain will have stopped,   
And the wind that today made all the little shrubs kneel down;   
And I think it will be a Sunday because today,
When I took out this paper and began to write,
Never before had anything looked so blank,
My life, these words, the paper, the gray Sunday;
And my dog, quivering under a table because of the storm,   
Looked up at me, not understanding,
And my son read on without speaking, and my wife slept.

Donald Justice is dead. One Sunday the sun came out,   
It shone on the bay, it shone on the white buildings,
The cars moved down the street slowly as always, so many,   
Some with their headlights on in spite of the sun,   
And after awhile the diggers with their shovels   
Walked back to the graveside through the sunlight,   
And one of them put his blade into the earth   
To lift a few clods of dirt, the black marl of Miami,   
And scattered the dirt, and spat,
Turning away abruptly, out of respect.

Donald Justice, “Variations on a Text by Vallejo” from New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1995 by Donald Justice. Reprinted with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
Source: New & Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1995)
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