Monday, February 20, 2006

Behind the Mirror

This weekend V passed on to me a great little story that she'd picked up on Spanish TV: a woman was rearranging things in her house when she accidentally knocked over a jug, which fell and smashed an old mirror. Amongst the shards scattered on the terracotta floor she discovered a love letter written in 1926 by "MCS". The intended recipient and object of a lifelong secret love "from behind the mirror" was her long-deceased grandmother

V described the sentiments inside this almost excessively patient romantic booby-trap as añejados mellowed and matured like fine wine bedded down in a musty old cellar; so much the more interesting and complex because of the long delay before uncorking.

Try as I might though, I just can't get the English translations of MCS's words to sound anything like as touching and poetic as the original formulations in Spanish.

"Al quebrar este espejo se habra cumplido mi deseo eterno..." (The moment this mirror breaks is the moment that my everlasting wish will have been granted.) "Tu sonrisa es un dolor, porque no es para mi" (Your smile is my agony, because it isn't for me.)

It reminds me a bit of those hoary old Catalan fishermen in Norman Lewis's Voices of the Old Sea that chose to rhyme in castellano rather than their mother tongue because of its undoubtedly superior poetic qualities.

The mirror-breaker now believes that the man who so equitably assigned his confession of hidden devotion to the whims of fate was a carpenter living in the same town as her grandmother. The rest of the story has yet to be filled out, but there's no shortage of willing investigators.

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