Borges and Me
Jorge Luis Borges, “La Recoleta”
Convinced of demise
by many noble certainties of dust,
we delay and sink our voice
between the slow lines of pantheons,
Whose rhetoric to shadow and marble,
Promise or prefigure the dignity of having died.
Translated by Aaron Goekleer
On one of those mild winter evenings in Buenos Aires, I walked through the imposing entrance gate of the labyrinthine Recoleta cemetery. There lie the remains of the illustrious heroes of the Argentine Republic– Sarmiento, Mitre, Avellaneda and even Rosas. Later on, Evita would be there, but Juan Domingo Perón, never made it. Also interred there are the country’s literary and sports notables. I was totally ignorant about this national monument, but I was well aware of Jorge Luis Borges’ poem about the cemetery, one of his best-known works.
I entered and immediately, and to my amazement, caught sight of Borges himself, standing not more than twelve feet from me. Literary. Borges, no less, accompanied by his translator Thomas DiGiovani, standing in from of crypt. I saw them from behind. Borges was wearing a gray suit, DiGiovani a sweater. Not talking or moving. Reflecting, perhaps meditating. Motionless.
I felt an intense desire to interrupt them. Nevertheless, through respect, timidity, or both, I did nothing. For an instant I looked away, my gaze fixed on an elegant tomb. When I looked back, the two were no longer there.
Borges had disappeared.
By Stephen A. Sadow