We said goodbye on a corner in Once. From the other sidewalk I turned to look back; you too had turned, and you waved goodbye to me.
A river of vehicles and people were flowing between us. It was five o’clock on an ordinary afternoon. How was I to know that the river was Acheron the doleful, the insuperable?
We did not see each other again, and a year later you were dead.
And now I seek out that memory and look at it, and I think it was false, and that behind that trivial farewell was infinite separation.
Last night I stayed in after dinner and reread, in order to understand these things, the last teaching Plato put in his master’s mouth. I read that the soul may escape when the flesh dies.
And now I do not know whether the truth is in the ominous subsequent interpretation, or in the unsuspecting farewell.
To say goodbye to each other is to deny separation. It is like saying “today we play at separating, but we will see each other tomorrow.” Man invented farewells because he somehow knows he is immortal, even though he may seem gratuitous and ephemeral.
Delia, we will take up again–beside what river?–this uncertain dialogue, and we will ask each other if ever, in a city lost on a plain, we were Borges and Delia.
[From Dreamtigers, by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Mildred Boyer]