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‘When I Was Ill’ by Alfredo Aguilar

— Andrew Sargus Klein

I keep returning to ‘When I Was Ill’ by Alfredo Aguilar, because each return begets a slightly different leaving. The careful procession of images—resonances, even—can be calming or quietly desperate or a dream unfolding into something even more dream-like. This one scene is multiple.

                                the birds were loudest
in the morning. i told myself
                          they sang to keep daylight

             from coming, but the blue
dawn crept in anyway.

This sequence appears just before the end, where the speaker states “I knew I would die here,” and between these two moments—the inevitability of a new day, the certitude of death—there lies a space of unknowing, for me. A space that runs through the whole poem, really. A space still renewing itself with each reading.


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