Baltasar Porcel

Horses into the night

Cavalls cap a la fosca

Cavalls cap a la fosca


However, it wasn't that August morning when Aunt Amàlia took me back into father's past but almost a quarter of a century later, that last time I went to Andratx, which was in autumn too, to clear up matters with inheritance papers – my grandmother's, long ago; the curate's, relatively recent – and also to delve into still other files trying to pick up the threads, however fine they might be, of my father and other ghosts. 

Going to Son Farriol was something I decided just after sunset one afternoon. The track into the property was straight, flanked by pomegranate trees. I stopped to touch one of the pomegranates, seething in its mineral garnet red. It seemed as if I was repeating actions that had been carried out again and again on other occasions, although I had only set foot in Son Vadell that one summer's day. But perhaps, in being summoned up, the memory of those hours, of that reality that was so precise and vivid, had triumphed over the order of time to take on a somnambulistic existence, as if set in some timeless, fixed and funereal space. 

The garden, the tangle of seedbeds crisscrossed with canes, was starting to give off a tenuous whiff of damp. Yet the earth of the track was hot, still impregnated with the afternoon sun that had surprisingly been intensely hot, as if it were orbiting lower than usual. It seemed that a huge beast had gone along the track before me, leaving a warm trail behind it: for a moment I thought it could have been the mighty fairytale dragon that panted out its fiery breath as it guarded the garden of the Love for Three Oranges in the lost rocky slopes of the other side of the river … The one in the story my father told me just before he left. 

Around the house, the magnolias had just about lost all their leaves. They rose darkly, half naked against the façade, startling in their severity. A few doughy-looking, late-blooming flowers remained, sad and bloated in their whiteness, like a sign of exotic mourning. There was not a soul to be seen. The great staircase was devoid of plants: only steps and walls, toasted stone, rough, stark nudity. I went inside, into the silent, dusty house, the hall weighed down with neglect … I don't know if it was the perfume, cloying around me, that made me aware of the presence of Aunt Amàlia before I saw her. 

Translated by John L. Getman, Fayetteville, University of Arkansas Press, 1995.


Prudenci Bertrana



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