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Natural Theology

- by Hilda Hilst -

(Translated by Dawn Jordan)


     The future's face he didn't see. Life, a gross imitation of nothing. So he thought about hollows of face, blindness, corroded hands, and feet, everything would be eaten by the salt, stretched out whiteness of the condemned, damned saltiness, infernal saltbed, he thought glasses gloves galoshes, thought about selling that which, all Tio sunk in brilliance, beef jerky was he, dried, salted, stretched, and the meat-face of the future where was it? He dreamed himself sweetened, cane syrup body, betterment if only he could buy the things, sell something, Tio. What? In the city there are people who even buy shit in packages, if you only had a conch or oyster, ah, but your foot would never stand the whole day in the saltbed and then again at night, at the edge of the salty water, in the crevice of the rock, on the jags where the oysters used to live. He entered the house. Dryness, emptyhood, from the corner she peered at him and gnawed some hard ones in the wetness of her mouth, no, she wasn't a rat, she was everything Tio owned, peering again at her son's strange acts, Tio soaking some rags, filling his hands with ashes, if I rub you right you'll whiten a little and be beautiful, I'll sell you there, and someday buy you back, softness on the tongue spoke in pauses, no hooks, I'll sell you, now the back, turn around, now you clean your belly, I'll turn around and you clean your privates, while you clean your bottom I'll get a handful of raspberries, that's enough, let's carefully spread this red mass over your face, on the cheeks, the lips, stand up straighter so you hide your hump, glasses gloves galoshes, that's all I need, if they buy anything down there in the city they should buy you, later I'll come for you, and a few dustings off, primps, a few whisps of breath on the wrinkled face, hair, giving the old lady a turn, examining her as only an expert in mothers would, dreamed-of buyer, Tio tied to his back with some old rope everything he owned, mute, small, delicate, a little speck of a mother, and smiled a lot while he walked.

Translated by Dawn Jordan
Edited by Marjorie Agosin
Fredonia, New York: White Pine Press
1992 Second Edition