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Simon Carbajal


Antelo's fields, 1890 or so—

My father crossed paths with him.  Perhaps they exchanged

A few sparing and long-forgotten words.

He remembered nothing of the man but this:

The back of his dark-skinned left hand crisscrossed

With scratches—claw marks.  Back then, on the ranch,

Everyone lived out his own destiny:

This guy broke horses, that one was a wrangler,

Another man could rope like nobody else—

It fell to Carbajal to hunt down jaguars.

Whenever a jaguar preyed upon the sheepfold

Or someone heard her screaming in the darkness,

Carbajal would track her into the bush.

He took a knife with him and a few dogs.

And when at last he closed with her in a thicket

He would set the dogs on her.  The tawny beast

As like as not sprang suddenly on the man

Who shook a jacket wrapped around his arm,

Both shield and an incitement.  The white belly

Was unprotected and the animal

Felt the steel entering her until she died.

The pain was fated, yes, and infinite.

He went on killing always the same jaguar

Which was immortal.  Don't let this surprise you

Too much.  His destiny is yours, and mine,

Except for the fact that our jaguar takes forms

That change continuously.  Call it chance,

Or love, or hatred, call it—every moment.


                                                                 after Borges


Robert Mezey



From Collected Poems: 1952-1999, University of Arkansas
Press, © 2000.  Reprinted by permission of the author.

by Grapholina

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