Issue 74, Fall-Winter 1978
(Hommage à Borges & Singer)
“And we have removed from thee thy
veil; and thy sight today is piercing.”
The treacherous nature of human language is shown with admonitory force in an incident well known, if not fully understood, among the people of this part of the hemisphere in which I spend my days. In the capitol of one of those countries bordering on mine, during the rule of the present dictator’s infamous uncle, there was erected a spacious and elegant clinic, all of white marble, modelled chiefly after the Alhambra, but with disquieting influences of Versailles and Stonehenge. Birds of colorful plumage nested in the intricacy of its crenellation. The director of this clinic was no mere bureaucrat (notwithstanding the fact that he was the brother-in-law of the abhorred despot), but a gifted and saintly man, a great healer, in fact: Dr. Justino Ybarra, son of that remarkable General Enrique Ybarra, who ordered his starving troops to eat each other rather than slaughter their steeds, “who are far nobler beings than you filthy rabble.” Much calumny has been said and sung about Dr. Ybarra, in particular a heartless and unfounded ditty one may hear bawled by urchins in the streets of that city even today:
Ybarra makes the blind to talk,
(Ay I Ay I Caramba!)
The lame to see, the dumb to walk.
(Ay! Ay! Caramba!)
It is partly to dispel this blindness about the dispeller of blindness that I, or a reasonably resemblant homunculus of myself (if even I, indeed, can be said to be myself), have, Allah protect the syntax, chosen to set down these words.