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On the wall of the room there was a mirror
reflecting back a comical skull that was laughing at itself.
Jawbones knit together by the threads of death.
Behind that skull there was yet another and another.
Nothing broke the impact of the voiceless laugh suspended in the night
except one ray of moonlight.
I, in the after dream, was exceedingly pale, despite being painted
with the red pigment related to blood and fire
and with the insignia of Tezcatlipoca, god of the smoking mirror.
Noonday, there close-by and here-afar, began to boil,
and between the powerful jaws and claws of the yellow cat
the bones of a small doe were being crushed.
A black mirror reflected my solitary person.
A murky green enfolded the god of duality's silhouette,
half his face, fleshless, and an eye through which an empty train was passing.
The house among the dunes had a door that opened onto the infinite.
On a nopal, hearts were drying like the prickly pears on the cactus
beneath a searing sun that never set.
Facing starwards a windowpane was opening and closing.
In the dusk monkey scribes were dancing
and devouring black flowers and little smiling faces.
Chased by his own shadow, my dog Rufus was running under the moon.
Between dunes and evanescent rivers he searched for his resurrection.
Since the day of his death nobody had caught sight of him.
I was forty when this took place in the desert.
The winds of the soul told no hour and at the speed of forgetting
they ran through the darkness at one hundred kilometers per hour.
My lips burned and like tequila desire provoked violence
and lust in me for no reason. So, face to face with myself
I traced my way through labyrinths, anxieties, wrinkles, eyes and ears,
jawbones, eyelashes. Insects within and without
had entered through the glass-free windshield of my body,
and in the vertigo of my-self I was alone with my mind.
Among sunshades on a single pole and windshield wipers moved by pure chance,
outlandish images beat at my heart. And from the far-off ground,
a dog with a human face watched me as if I were its alter ego.
At the foot of life and death's double pyramid,
the god Quetzalcoatl offered flowers and butterflies
to his followers in place of human flesh.
And amid such splendor, only the sadness was mine.

Self-Portrait in the Zone of Silence

George McWhirter, translation from
the original written by Homero Aridjis

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