‘The Blue Bouquet’ by Octavio Paz, translated by Eliot Weinberger

A surreal tale. It appears in Paz’s Selected Poems, so definitionally it’s a prose poem. I ruled out Anne Carson’s ‘Merry Christmas from Hegel’ for this reason, so I feel I can indulge myself just once on this account. The very short story – only a couple of pages long – recounts the narrator’s walk at night when he is assaulted by a man looking to mollify his girlfriend with a bouquet of blue eyes. Does the narrator possess the prized eye-colour, or will he be spared the knife? Reminiscent of Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou, but more conventionally structured. A model of how to use foreshadowing, employing the senses to anticipate the dramatic climax.

First published in Spanish in 1949. Collected in English in Selected Poems of Octavio Paz, New Directions, 1984. Read the story online here