A Monologue. that Allows Me to Dialogue with the Poet Rubén Bonifaz Nuño in a Park in Córdoba, Veracruz

Francisco Hernández
Here we are, Don Rubén, right where I promised we’d meet: sitting on a bench across from the parish of the Immaculate Conception in 21 de Mayo Park, in the city where, like Jorge Cuesta, you saw light for the first time. I don’t know if it was day or night, but here you found the clarity that, so they say, can dazzle the eye until everything grows dark. And here are the trees, some bearing names not often pronounced although their presence is quite established: dagames, white cedars, royal palms, chestnuts, two sweetgums and a single tall copperwood. All under the blue of a cloudless sky that somehow, holds the promise of overnight rain.

* * *

Do you like it here in Córdoba, Don Rubén? What do you mean, more or less? This is land of coffee plantations and cane fields and, of course, of mature women with the principle of grace. Like a perfect mirror, somewhere between coffee and rum, to help us confront our thirst; like a tiger that attacks the surface of a well, contemplating its own image disfigure and sink. 

* * * 

Don Rubén, did you hear the bells? They may seem distant, but they’re very close. Listen also to how these somewhat silent words resound: 

And so only 
For the pleasure of dying, we live. 

Well then, Don Rubén, if we head over to the portals, we can eat at the Balcón de Zevallos. And later on, we can visit the Jorge Cuesta Cultural Center, how does that sound? And by the way, poet, your own museum or cultural center, when will that be? Never mind, it’s their loss. Getting kind of hot, isn’t it? I wouldn’t be surprised if the temperature were to reach four hundred degrees. 

* * * 

Speaking of Rubenian realities, remember that time I stepped inside La Lechuza, the taco place where we used to dine every Thursday, and once I’d found you, I only insisted on telling you the sad tale of a lovesickness that had left me terribly forlorn? And before you laughed with the serenity of one who has walked more than once down those paths that make one feel unsheltered, with no way out, you shook me to the core by saying: 

—Laugh, Francisco! I am going blind, and yet I laugh! 

A great lesson, dear poet. I don’t forget it, and it has helped me free myself more than once from those maddening, yet welcome crossroads. 

* * * 

Would you like us to go now, Don Rubén? Would you like to find out whether the house you lived in as a child still stands? Or the office where your father worked as a telegraph operator?  

Oh, look, here comes my wife Leticia who, as I told you, is also from Córdoba. She went off in search of the Virgin of Solitude and doubtless found her, because she is wearing a big smile. Let me ask her to take our picture.  

Wait…! Where are you going, Don Rubén? What do you mean you won’t appear in the photograph? If anyone here is truly a ghost, it’s me, not you, wouldn’t you agree? 

(At that moment, a red Volkswagen slowly rolls by, and from its speakers emerge the following words: 

Cha, cha, cha. Let the sound boil over. Let’s dance. Let the party go on because we are free. And so, lights out for the one who chooses to wail no more, while we go on reading and writing.) 

Thank you very much.

Francisco Hernández is a poet from Veracruz. He has received numerous awards, from Aguascalientes National Poetry Prize 1982 for his book Mar de fondo to the Rubén Bonifaz Nuño International Prize acknowledging his career as a poet in residence, granted by UNAM’s Institute of Philological Research through the Rubén Bonifaz Nuño Seat on November 9, 2022. The present text was read by Hernández during the ceremony. 

English version by Tanya Huntington.
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