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For many years we talked quite often.
Today was the first day I noticed your number,
                                                           figure by figure.
Most of the time I just returned your call.
Everything about you was comforting:
the ever-combatant smile,
the branded cigars,
your lust-for-life baggage.
Life is too short, you said, as we all say,
but you seemed to know it for a fact.
I met you in Japan, where you had gone
to enjoy the beauty of this world
– which they assure me you have just left –
while I was trying to find myself.

Now I’m not sure what that canned voice means:
The number you have dialled has not been recognised,
please try again later.
How long is later?
How much time do they mean?
Where is your welcoming voice,
                                             ready to shelter?
Why don’t those nine numbers work anymore?
Telephone. They say it means sound from afar.
Further than Japan? Further than nothingness?
Further than the black winds of nevermore?

By the way, you’ll be glad to know
I will go back to Japan next Spring.
I am not sure if it still exists
but I am certain that I don’t.
At least not the one you met in Tokyo.
Let alone
the one your friendship transformed.

Raquel Lanseros
translated by Allen Josephs

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