“A mountain in the moon”

June 18, 2009

For a while now I’ve been jotting down shorthand symbols in front of a friend who’s across a café table from me. I’ve asked him to forgive me, explaining that I have to make some notes. He won’t take it badly. He always expects me to do something that’s somehow remote from reality. What I truly want is to give my eyes a rest—writing is less tiring to them—along with my face, and my soul. If I weren’t writing I’d have to display a smile or a gesture to my friend, and say some words that fit in with his idea of me, which it suits me for him to keep. He thinks that although I have only a little money left, it doesn’t really worry me; I’m an artist who lives “on a mountain in the moon,” as he puts it, and only descends at odd moments, full of good grace and forgiveness for this small city where it turns out to be so difficult to hold even a single piano concert. He doesn’t believe I experience earthly anguish, so he tells me with an incredible wealth of detail about all the failures he’s met with in trying to finance this concert. But not only am I here on earth, thinking about how I’ll pay the hotel and the bus to take me away from this place, I’m flat on the ground. Since it costs me a great deal to get up and reach the high places his illusions assign me, I’d rather turn my face and eyes toward this paper, misleading my friend with this flight of signs.

—from “The New House”
in Lands of Memory, by Felisberto Hernández


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