Skip to content
Give readers a window on the world. Click to donate.
from the February 2007 issue

Seven Aches

After grasping the games and their rules

The fatigue of participation becomes less and less bearable.

Straight after grasping the knowledge of gain

One must leave the game;

This is not the story of losing

But of not winning


The city is a woman so forlorn she can't say "no,"

Who makes love because she doesn't want to speak;

The city is a badly beaten dog

That no longer responds to pain;

The tonic words that touch the hearts of urbanites

Can't handle

The aches that get buried deeper as the city dwellers sleep,

And for this reason

Every conversation in the city is a little bit in vain.


Every ache sleeps in a certain position. In sleep, the

body that becomes itself as it forgets itself will

discover that position through trial and error.

The body knows how to soothe its own ache. The body

can construct soporific angles, hills for its aches. Every

hill conceals an ache. This is why thousands of aches

will settle in the hills of our flesh, of our insides, where

they have found their sleeping positions. This is why it

is dangerous to budge people, to demolish their hills.

To tug at cities and at urbanites is to awaken the aches

that sleep on the hills.


-S live in every house; people

build hills to put their aches to sleep.

-S and -es, the adjacent suffixes,

Will begin new days for new aches

People who cause people to ache

Will collide again tomorrow without ointment

Then they'll return and make other people

Lick their aching spots;

-S and -es

Shall live by licking and biting,

By making people lick and bite*Šs

Whereas saliva wounds the flesh:

If you press your soft mouth for very long to a body,

If you briefly glide your sharp mouth across a body,

In both cases*Š

Whereas saliva heals the flesh's wounds

If you press your soft mouth for very long to a body,

If you briefly glide your sharp mouth across a body,

In both cases*Š


Wounds will open in your flesh

Then the wounds will forget themselves in your flesh

There is no third way in this city

And in the other city*ŠAnd in the other one*Š

Don't wake sleeping aches!

Neither the city's, nor the city dwellers'

Keep your saliva inside your cheeks,

Don't kiss those who don't have the strength to say "no"

Don't gather on the city's hills

Like the pushy crowds

Don't stamp around the hills and wake the city's aches

Don't stand on the seven aches' seven hills,

This work is not for you


If you bite, your mouth will hurt

If you lick, you'll get poisoned

In any case, it is you who will fall in this city


But still, a person can only be alone in a city with a sea.

Because you can turn your face to the sea. That way,

you turn your back to the crowds. As for cities without

a sea, whichever way you turn there are people,

whichever way you turn.

For that reason, people should get along well with each

other in cities without a sea. As for cities with a sea,

those who want to can also live without running into

people's faces.


Go down. Go down to the sea

For if you turn your face to the sea

You'll turn your back on the shameless crowd

Only in a city with a sea can you be by yourself

By the sea

People are all the same. They gradually turn into mirrors.

Only the opposite of your face,

Its reverse can be reflected in their waters.

Let go, don't look at those mirrors,

Let your retinas register a thousand disparate waves

Your nape to the sun, your forehead to the wind

Look, look carefully, may your eyes brim with sea

In any case you'll certainly

Encounter, even in this city,

A person who'll say, "Some sea got in your eye," to someone,

"A bird got stuck in your hair," to someone else

Who'll lean their ear against your mind,

Who'll look not at your face, but wherever you're looking

Who, when you say, "They're crowding the sea, the water hurts,"

Won't be surprised and stare at your mouth, but at the sea

In this city of seven aches

This person will touch your aches without waking them

Lull your pain without opening it up

Go down. Go down to the sea

For the next poem in this sequence, "Offering II," please click here.

Read more from the February 2007 issue
Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.