Toward the end of 1992 he was very sick
and had separated from his wife.
That was the goddamn truth:
he was alone and fucked
and he tended to think there was little time left.
But dreams, oblivious to sickness,
showed up every night
with a loyalty that came to surprise him.
Dreams took him to that magical country
he and no one else called Mexico City
and Lisa and the voice of Mario Santiago
reading a poem
and so many other good things worthy
of the most ardent praise.
Sick and alone, he would dream
and confront the days that passed inexorably
toward the end of another year.
And from it he gathered a bit of strength and courage.
Mexico, the phosphorescent steps in the night,
the music playing on corners
where in the past whores would freeze
(in the icy heart of Colonia Guerrero)
and would dole him out the sustenance needed
to clench his teeth
and not cry in fear.
This poem is drawn from The Unknown University, an edition of Roberto Bolaño’s complete poetry, translated by Laura Healy, to be published on July 11 by New Directions.