Translated by Don Paterson
I'm sitting here on the old patio
beside your absence. It is a black well.
We'd be playing, now. . . I can hear Mama yell   
"Boys! Calm down!" We'd laugh, and off I'd go   
to hide where you'd never look. . . under the stairs,   
in the hall, the attic. . . Then you'd do the same.
Miguel, we were too good at that game.   
Everything would always end in tears.

No one was laughing on that August night
you went to hide away again, so late
it was almost dawn. But now your brother's through
with this hunting and hunting and never finding you.
The shadows crowd him. Miguel, will you hurry   
and show yourself? Mama will only worry.

More Poems by César Vallejo