Translated to English by Steven J. Stewart and Patrick Madden
[THIS IS A CONTINENT COMPRISED]
This is a continent comprised
of words, not a continent comprised
of rage, not a cup about to
overflow. This is only a distant approximation
trying to get closer. The compromised
people began to appear in public places
begging for food. Not only on the corners
of insomnia when the stoplight is red.
The spectacle is no longer the clown, the fire-eater.
It’s no longer the child who knocks on the outside mirror
who detains his knuckle, his nakedness. Gentlemen of Japan:
Are the objects closer than they appear?
It can’t be, all that came before cannot be.
This is just a continent comprised of words,
just a poem that will not explode.
[WE BELIEVED THAT THE HORROR WOULD LEAVE US]
We believed that the horror would leave us
when we moved. A residence
is after all a house. Why did we believe it?
In this new house, beautiful with its grand
windows and great plants and tiny
garden and tiny Alejandro.
We said, “Something has been given back to us.”
essential like life cut down in its prime,
let us say life, love defended
inch by inch, meaning with the palms
up, open, cupped,
with their lifelines toward the sky,
defenseless. Meaning not with the knuckles,
with the veins interlaced hiding
like creepers or with the roots going down,
ashamed. We didn’t want the vegetation fleeing
toward the swamp. Rather the not-horror,
the not-hanging of the voice from the other side.
[IT’S ELEVEN O’CLOCK, GABRIELA]
It’s eleven o’clock, Gabriela
comes and tells me and that
hits me hard. Of course
it’s eleven, love, what other
time could it be? For someone
who decided to get neither too far away
nor too close, except to
someone like you who sings the exact hour,
sings the meaningless hour waking him
just to remind him of the time,
these are bonds.
[THIS ISN’T THE POEM I’D PREFER]
This isn’t the poem I’d prefer
but it’s the only one I have now. It arises
like a pain that pierces
a child, a senseless pain, a spine
without a fish, a kind of distant pain.
Like when a Stratus blocks my path
without warning. Or more painful, colder:
like when it’s a train. Or a better
image, at least sharper,
dryer: like when you escape, love,
leaving me with only the scent of your sex.
[REAL WORDS ARE NOT]
Real words are not
true words. Real words
are the words of the poem when they are
physical (they were previously made flesh:
the gods carried them off ).
But they’re not true because they don’t tell
the truth. And this is the schism, the fall,
the fire: the poem wants to tell the truth
beyond its poetic truth. And this
the gash, the wound, the hemorrhage
caught in a glass that isn’t a glass
but longs to be a Latin American country.
[THE POEM COMPREHENDED AS GRACE]
The poem comprehended as grace
distances itself from the pain of men
every day in more pain, from Pain Monday
through Palm Sunday. Here, on the Earth,
this happens: the poem comprehended as grace
heads the order of the spirit, a strange
island among the disordered. The love
of small things, love of the fragile
word, not the grandiloquent, what’s left over,
what’s almost caressed by the hands, like a
pear, a pinwheel, an origami, it’s a type
of altar. Before the poem comprehended as grace
we fall on our knees, a genuflection in the lofty
tradition of humanity.
The knees, like wheels, for their part,
occupy the ancient space of the feet
upon the earth, our only consolation.
The Spanish versions of “We Believed That the Horror Would Leave Us” and “This is a Continent Comprised” both appear in Querencia, gracias y otros poemas (Galaxia Gutenberg–Círculo de Lectores, Barcelona, 2003). The Spanish versions of the rest all appear in Razón de amor y acto de fe (Visor Libros, Madrid, 2001). All of the English versions will appear in Everything is Connected. Selected Poems and Essays of Eduardo Milán (ed. Antonio Ochoa, Word Power Press, Edinburgh, 2005).
Posted: April 3, 2012 at 1:57 am