Two Poems

Two Poems

Manuel Iris

English translation by Tanya Huntington


The word fish wriggles
its way deep into the river.

And now, on my command,
it bites into another fish there, in the dark.

All of it is mine:

I inscribe the gills of the word fish
and speak its scales.

And yet, I am aware
—the writer’s curse—
that despite the power
I so freely wield
and relish without shame
I am able to compose only
the fish
that swallows me whole.


She watches as I write

She watches as I write
and smiles at me
and speaks in a tongue
that is so like water,
so like the sun. 

She watches as I write and raises both hands high,
disrupting the composition of this poem
the imperceptible amount of time spent
between this verse and the rest.
The deceptive continuity of what is written,
the brevity of blankness on the page
masks the amount of time
suspended here, enclosed
between the moment when I told you
that she watches as I write
and that other moment when I was disrupted by her voice
her tongue of five months
those two small hands
I never want to forget
and that cannot be captured by this poem,
the writing of which was happily disrupted
more than once.


*Image by Samuel Ramkalawan

Manuel Iris Mexican poet living in the United States. Poet Laureate of the City of Cincinnati, Ohio (2018-2020). National Award of poetry “Merida” for his book Notebook of dreams [Cuaderno de los sueños], Regional Award of Poetry “Rudolfo Figueroa” for The disguises of fire [Los disfraces del fuego]. His first bilingual book of poems, Traducir el silencio/Translating silence, won awards for best book of poems and best translation in the International Latino Book Award in Los Angeles, Californa, in 2018.



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