Eight Poems by Gastón Baquero
By Peter Boyle
| 1 September 2013
Oscar Wilde dictates to Toulouse-Lautrec the recipe for the cocktail drunk
the night before in Sarah Bernhardt’s salon in Montmartre.
(According to Roland Dorgeles, in Sarah’s house they drank an extraordinary cocktail that night.
A man asked how it was made. And Sarah said, “It’s a secret of Oscar’s. Oscar, would you like
to give the recipe in private to my sweet friend Monsieur Toulouse-Lautrec?”)
“Squeeze between thumb and index finger a small green
lime from Martinique. Take the juice of a pineapple
grown in Barbados by Mexican wizards. Take
two or three drops of maracugá elixir and half a bottle
of rum made in Guyana for the violent thirst
of our sailors, the grandsons of Walter Raleigh.
Mix all this in a silver bowl, then leave it to settle
for half an hour before the portrait of the Divine Sarah.
Next make sure the mixture is shaken
by a black servant with violet coloured eyes.
Only then add, discreetly,
two drops of seminal fluid from an adolescent boy,
another two drops of warm milk from a goat from Surinam,
and two or three dashes of ajonjolí elixir
that you people call sesame and Haroun-Al-Rashid calls tahini.
Chill all this to a suitable temperature,
serve only in small cups of mahogany
from the West Indies, just as last night
the Divine Sarah served it to us. And nothing more, that’s it: as
simple, Monsieur de Toulouse,
as dancing a cancan on the banks of the Seine.”
Coriolanus my dog read the death of Nureyev
in The Times. As the ballet dancer
had spent so long living with us
(a poster of his body in profile covers
a glass crack in the bathroom door)
Coriolanus began to weep
inconsolably. He wept in silence, inwardly,
with the weeping of well-brought-up dogs, he wept
without groans or sighs. To try and calm him
I filled the house with melodious ballets.
Swan Lake, Ravel’s La Valse, Les Sylphides. All useless:
Coriolanus went on meditating, his eyes fixed
on the ballet dancer.
At last I remembered
that I had among some old papers Tycho Brahe’s universal recipe
to cure afflictions of the heart and griefs of the soul.
I found the recipe by pure serendipity and unfolded it
before the exhausted eyes of Coriolanus.
Holy remedy! Fierabras’ magic potion! Resinous patch
to staunch the most savage pain!
Coriolanus lifted his eyes
from the image of the dancer, and that day
we could, as on every other day, go out in quest of the sun,
to seek happy children and the deceptiveness of life.
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