Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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The Marriage Voyage of Juan Ramón Jiménez 1916

He doesn’t know whether to trust sound or vision;
reaching for Zenobia across the Atlantic, whether to lend
credence to the sea’s bellyaching or the shadow riven
from the down-slope of a wave. Something distends

inside him, something inorganic balloons the way
worlds morph in size when we close our eyes.
There’s the reality of the steamship, there’s the bouquet
of neural transmitters tied with enigmatic pain—

they co-exist, but they don’t overtop one another.
Stepping onto New York only aggravates the rift;
though he’s greeted by a fiancé, he’ll depend on her
to traverse the space between tongues, in stretches of transit.

Years later he’ll come back to this during exile from
war-torn Spain— the way kissing on the dock
taught him how to slide back and forth between the worlds;
the sight of her and the noise of their lips’ suction
like the narrative and the vatic; the clarity of a white-washed
Moguer home against the Andalú sky, the resonant wood of its door—
recall, above the rest, the continuous demands of the furnace.  

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