Book//mark – Springtime in a Broken Mirror | Mario Benedetti, 1982

Springtime in a Broken Mirror | Mario Benedetti, 1982
Mario Benedetti, Primavera con una esquina rota, 1982                         Mario Benedetti (1920-2009)

’Tonight I am alone. […] I can think more clearly. I don’t have to screen myself off to think of you. You’ll say that four years, five months and fourteen days is too long to spend just thinking things over. And you’re right. But it’s not too long to spend thinking of you. The moon is shining, and I’m making the most of it, writing to you. It’s like a balm, the moon, it always calms me. And its light, however faint, shines on the paper, which is important because at this time of night they cut off the electricity. I didn’t even have moonlight, though, for the first two years, so I’m not complaining. As Aesop concluded, there’s always someone worse off than you.’’

”Human beings are strange creatures when condemned to their own solitude, or when punishment consists in bringing them face to face with the loneliness of one, two or three of their fellows, when none of them ever chose to be in such close proximity. i don’t believe (not even after these recent harsh years) what that gloomy existentialist said about hell being other people, but i will admit that often other people are not exactly heaven.”

”It’s thortum now where my dad is, and he wrote that he’s very happy because the dry leaves float in through the bars and he imagines they’re letters from me.”

”Because nobody knows who they really are, how flammable or fire-resistant they are, until they’ve been through the fire.” ‘

“Amnesty is when one pardons the penitent. For example if I come home with dirty clothes, I will lose dessert for a week. But if I behave well and for three days in a row my arithmetic marks are excellent, I get amnesty and can have ice cream for dessert.”

”I feel happy, and yet i’m not happy. i never imagined that to feel happy would contain so much sadness.”

‘’A life without phantoms isn’t good, a life where all presences are of flesh and blood.’’

”Obviously, once this is over, when it’s all done with and you become conscious of having survived it all, you must be left with a crumb of dignity, but also a permanent deposit of rancour. which will never go away, even if the future brings you security, trust, love and a safe path forward. a deposit of rancour that can rot and spread and even contaminate that trust and love, that onward path, all of which could intertwine with more than one individual future. in other words, those ruthless jailers, those experts in cruelty, those loathsome cannibals, those hierophants of the sacred order of the trap, are guilty not only in the present; their guilt will carry far into the future. not only are they responsible for every single iniquity, or for the sum of those iniquities; they are responsible, also, for having undermined the time honoured foundations of a solid society. when they torture a person, kill him or not, they are also tormenting (even though they don’t lock them up, even if they just leave them defenceless and bewildered in their ravaged homes) that person’s wife, his parents, his children, damaging all of their relationships. when they crush a revolutionary (as in the case of Santiago) and force his family into exile, they tear time to shreds; distorting the history of that branch of the tree, that small clan. to regroup in exile is not, as is so often said, to wipe the slate clean, to start the count again from zero. you start from minus four, or minus twenty, or minus a hundred.”

Mario Benedetti, Primavera con una esquina rota, 1982

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