Nocturne: The Angels


Xavier Villaurrutia

You might say the streets flow sweetly through the night.

The lights are dim so the secret will be kept,

the secret known by the men who come and go,

for they’re all in on the secret

and why break it up in a thousand pieces

when it’s so sweet to hold it close,

and share it only with the one chosen person.

If, at a given moment, everyone would say

with one word what he is thinking,

the six letters of DESIRE would form an enormous luminous scar,

a constellation more ancient, more dazzling than any other.

And that constellation would be like a burning sex

in the deep body of night,

like the Gemini, for the first time in their lives,

looking each other in the eyes and embracing forever.

Suddenly the river of the street is filled with thirsty creatures;

they walk, they pause, they move on.

They exchange glances, they dare to smile,

they form unpredictable couples...

There are nooks and benches in the shadows,

riverbanks of dense indefinable shapes,

sudden empty spaces of blinding light

and doors that open at the slightest touch.

For a moment, the river of the street is deserted.

Then it seems to replenish itself,

eager to start again.

It is paralyzed, mute, gasping moment,

like a heart between two spasms.

But a new throbbing, a new pulsebeat

launches new thirsty creatures on the river of the street.

They cross, crisscross, fly up.

They glide along the ground.

They swim standing up, so miraculously

no one would ever say they’re not really walking.

They are angels.

They have come down to earth

on invisible ladders.

They come from the sea that is the mirror of the sky

on ships of smoke and shadow,

they come to fuse and be confused with men,

to surrender their foreheads to the thighs of women,

to let other hands anxiously touch their bodies

and let other bodies search for their bodies till they’re found,

like the closing lips of a single mouth,

they come to exhaust their mouths, so long inactive,

to set free their tongues of fire,

to sing the songs, to swear, to say all the bad words

in which men have concentrated the ancient mysteries

of flesh, blood and desire.

They have assumed names that are divinely simple.

They call themselves Dick or John, Marvin or Louis.

Only by their beauty are they distinguishable from men.

They walk, they pause, they move on.

They exchange glances, they dare to smile.

They form unpredictable couples.

They smile maliciously going up in the elevators of hotels,

where leisurely vertical flight is still practices.

There are celestial marks on their naked bodies:

blue signs, blue stars and letters.

They let themselves fall into beds, they sink into pillows

that make them think they’re still in the clouds.

But they close their eyes to surrender to the pleasures of their mysterious


and when they sleep, they dream not of angels but of men.


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