Virgins with set-squares

And compasses, watching over

The heavenly blackboards.

And the angel of numbers,

Pensive, flying

From 1 to 2, from 2

To 3, from 3 to 4.

Cold chalk and sponges

Streaked and erased

The light of deep space.

No sun, moon or stars,

Or the sudden green

Of lightning and thunder,

Or air. Only mist.

Virgins with set-squares

Or compasses, weeping.

And on the dead blackboards,

The angel of numbers,

Lifeless, shrouded,

On the 1 and the 2,

On the 3, on the 4…

Rafael Alberti


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