Se me va de los dedos la caricia sin causa

Photograph — Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

In 1965 in the middle of a damp and very cold Buenos Aires winter I called up Susy. As soon as she answered she bluntly told me, “Don’t ever call me again. You are an uncouth man without a future. I have a new boyfriend. He plays the violin at the Teatro Colón Filarmonica.” Then she hung up.

I was in a fit of extreme and lonely depression. I was living in a pension in Beccar a suburb of Buenos Aires. I decided to feel sorry for myself in the best way I could. I put on Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue. My depression plummeted. I put on Astor Piazzolla’s Milonga del Angel. It got worse.I discovered that it almost felt good. Since then I periodically have sought melancholy as a sort of perverse pleasure.

These days in July when the phone does not ring I ask my Rosemary this question, “How is tonight different from last night?” She is unable to answer. I somehow feel that whatever usefulness I once had towards my family is now gone. I could very well simply disappear into that oblivion we have given so many names for.

But there is always an escape from that melancholy. To escape it one has to look for it to assert one’s ability to disagree with it.

That moment happened when I read this review of a book that was published in 1979, Black Tickets by Jane Anne Phillips. The very recent review (?) by Dwight Garner in the NY Times.

What caught my eye was this at the end of the review:

In the ways that its young women are caught between worlds, it evokes for me a line from one of Edna O’Brien’s short stories: “I am far from those I am with, and far from those I have left.”

That immediately took me to one of the most beautiful poems I have ever read on loneliness (Alas! no translation into English) The Lost Caress by Argentine poet Alfonsina Storni:

So everything was set for a blog but would I be able to find an adequate photograph to illustrate it? I think I found it.


Se me va de los dedos la caricia sin causa,

se me va de los dedos… En el viento, al pasar,

la caricia que vaga sin destino ni objeto,

la caricia perdida ¿quién la recogerá?

Pude amar esta noche con piedad infinita,

pude amar al primero que acertara a llegar.

Nadie llega. Están solos los floridos senderos.

La caricia perdida, rodará… rodará…

Si en los ojos te besan esta noche, viajero,

si estremece las ramas un dulce suspirar,

si te oprime los dedos una mano pequeña

que te toma y te deja, que te logra y se va.

Si no ves esa mano, ni esa boca que besa,

si es el aire quien teje la ilusión de besar,

oh, viajero, que tienes como el cielo los ojos,

en el viento fundida, ¿me reconocerás?

More Storni

And more Storni

And even more

And more

Link to: Se me va de los dedos la caricia sin causa

Originally published at