Sarah Wetzel

Martini with Borges’ Eyes

They don’t have the intimate easy touches of brothers
or lovers, yet their close conversation suggests
they’ve known each other a long time
perhaps childhood friends separated year
after year after one or the other moved
to London for work for a marriage
that’s since ended. Now reunited over gin
and vermouth, the two forty-somethings, don’t notice
how alike they’ve remained.
Each unconsciously mimes the other—thumbs hook
in the pockets of recently bought jeans, their heads
tilt in unison, then both nod,
one mouthing right right right as the other
says something agreeable, his lips forming words
I just make out through the bar’s darkness—
You know, Borges wasn’t really blind, at least
not completely
. This stops me
and I search their winter pale faces
for something
like irony or wit, but they are each
intent on the other. If not blind
then what of Borges’ hunger for libraries,
descriptions of books that in his poems smelled
of yesterday’s rain. Though his fear
of mirrors suddenly seems rational—I see no one
or some other self
. The two men stop speaking,
set down their Martini glasses. They hug
and I see how one clutches
the shirt of the other. Borges dreamed
the Ganges and of white tigers, their bones
heaving beneath covers
of skin, though later Borges admitted
his tigers were just symbols
like the word blind
like the two men, the darkness that would not exist
but for these unreliable instruments, eyes.

Sarah Wetzel
“Martini with Borges’ Eyes” first appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Fall/Winter 2010-2011, Vol. XII, No. 1.