Delia Elena San Marco
We said good-bye on one of the corners of the Plaza del Once.
From the sidewalk on the other side of the sreet I turned and looked back; you had turned, and you waved good-bye.
A river of vehicles and people ran between us; it was five o’clock on no particular afternoon. How was I to know that that river was the sad Acheron, which no one may cross twice?
Then we lost sight of each other, and a year later you were dead.
And now I search out that memory and gaze at it and think that it was false, that under the trivial farewell there lay an infinite separation.
Last night I did not go out after dinner. To try to understand these things, I reread the last lesson that Plato put in his teacher’s mouth. I read that the soul can flee when the flesh dies.
And now I am not sure whether the truth lies in the ominous later interpretation or in the innocent farewell.
Because if the soul doesn’t die, we are right to lay no stress on our good-byes.
To say good-bye is to deny separation; it is to say Today we play at going our own ways, but we’ll see each other tomorrow. Men invented farewells because they somehow knew themselves to be immortal, even while seeing themselves as contingent and ephemeral.
One day we will pick up this uncertain conversation again, Delia – on the bank of what river? – and we will ask ourselves whether we were once, in a city that vanished into the plains, Borges and Delia.