El perdedor se lo lleva todo / Martha Kornblith

Loser Takes All
(Fragment, Las Vegas 1980)

I only kneaded clay and from it extracted gold
Charles Baudelaire

The landscape of my twentieth year was
lace and pink cotton in Las Vegas
the smell of new clothes in my mother's hand
the vapor exhaled by the carpets at Caesar's
violently breaking into the blackjack wall
mint with ice, limousines and excursions to Virginia City
lot's of romanticism.
To live was merely a house courtesy
just like that.

Fortune never went beyond the temptation of the chips
the big suites
the wonder of the hotels on the Strip
the tiny bikinis
the betting men
the sunsets on exclusive islands.
I believed in all of that
because to believe was to forget time
and the design he leaves
or to reserve the right of admission for myself
because I denied many people.
Even so
I often escaped from the explosion of that destiny's lights
I was a thoughtful girl
I thought of things no one would give a nickel for.
Now the numbers betray me on the roulette
and I'm afraid to look at the cards
I've wagered everything.
I belong to a different legion of winners.

Yesterday there were men who wagered their fate
in other lands
where the players marched
in the night in the absence of clocks
the vigil of orchestras and the sweet life concretized
as in an Andy Warhol print.
The bodies said goodbye, splendid, calm
from those unusual beaches, missing daylight.
If my life were vain like that
if I weren't now in this land
of poets who suffer and recall loss
Their childhood
their paradise.
If we had celebrated the poem's birthday,
if my life had been
like a metaphor's thread
and my pretenders devoted
to more erratic vices.
If the beginning had been
like these my new habits
If my entire first life
had not fallen into disuse, like today
Maybe I wouldn't know the difference.
Because to desire and to wager is the same thing.

{ Martha Kornblith, El perdedor se lo lleva todo, Caracas: Editorial Pequeña Venecia, 1997 }

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