Bajo la advocación de Saturno / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Under the Protection of Saturn

     I remember the village of my birth. In its arid hills the broom of Leopardi would agonize. The breeze from the plateau would irritate the hunger of the wolf with a bloody mouth, stuffen the hands and infiltrate a perfidious dream, image and prelude of death.

     The wolf would pursue a few clamorous birds, with round eye and an ivory beak. It felt the crisis of the atmosphere and the change of season and was blinded with rage in the presence of an unearthed moon. Watching it, I contracted the habit of the vicious bite.

     I would read without order or concert, in my earthen cabin, immersed in the penury of the native place. The clouds hung from the fierce sky, obscuring the race of time, equalizing day and night, and drowning the voice of the hour of sleep.

     A gentleman inserted himself in my barren floor and could not figure out the path to return. I dressed him in a fur jacket, a gift from a bear hunter, and saved him from perishing in the cold. His gratitude changed me, two years later, into a student at a school for surgeons.

     My classmates would mock me in a festive manner, and provoke my opinions and sentences so they could applaud them with ironic astonishment. They diverted me from consummating my studies and attaining my license, accusing me, twisted with envy, of carrying out vivisections on patients. The university dignitaries published, when they expelled me, the motives of their displeasure, conferring upon me an ominous fame.

     I found refuge in a miserable district, close to my tenement, where some severe people were reared. The mountain ridge of exhausted torrents was carrying the weight of the horizontal sky. An ocre vestige would illuminate the lean shepherds in their task of looking after a flock of goats.

     I lived grievously from the illegal practice of my profession. I occupied an isolated and solid building, of a rusted color, flooded by the earth’s. The geometrician spider would suspend its tapestry with impunity.

     I fell in love with a sincere virgin, preoccupied with the defenseless creatures, similar to her temperament. The candid garb and the adornment of flowers on her forehead insinuated the figure of a victim. I took her away from her parents’ house. She regretted having followed me and succumbed after giving me the third child.

     I was thinking of reforming my trade, without scruples in the extermination of clients, and came to founder in misery and vilification. I was trying to save, by means of a surgical treatment, the breathing of those affected by angina. I tested it, without sickness as a motive, on my two oldest sons and left them without a voice. They would moan disconsolately, putting me in the position of having to fustigate them.

     I recall the last of my sterile efforts, when I inflicted a cut on the throat of my other son. He was breastfeeding and couldn’t stand on his own feet. He maintained his happy smile until the moment of sacrifice.

     The neighbors attended my mourning, surrounding me with compassion. They forgot about themselves and their reasons for accusing me. I had mutilated or mortally wounded them. They marveled at my perplexity and indifference.

     At that moment I was conceiving the decisive project of my ruin. I was compaginating the notes of my experience and the lucubrations of my ingenuity in order to address a body of doctors in the neighboring city. I besieged them with appeals and threats and persuaded them to hear me in a solemn session.

     I appeared elegantly dressed and disheveled and barefoot. I climbed onto a dais and frightened off the ladies with my indecent and haughty language. I would alternately force and lower my voice, reducing it to a murmur.

     The gendarmes were invited to the suppression of the disorder. I bruised their face with blows. They brought me here, amidst a crowd, with my hands tied behind my back.

     Locked in a cage and sitting on the chest with my old surgery books, I refer visitors to the malignancy of my colleagues.

Las formas del fuego (1929)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

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