In honor of the Argentine holiday, National Flag Day, we present this work by one of the country’s most representative poets.
lost the first sense of solidarity lost horizontal solidarity neighbor friend corner grocer in private no one recounts his life story these days where now are those Renaissance kitchens the houses of the Carpathians there will be no museum for our interiors like a fundamentalist veil some women have salvaged a universe conquered by my grandmothers children flora men in permanent distraction or literary fantasies while grand women water patio plants
…From white horses with madcap bound into the deep wave you leapt: “I catch you,” I shouted, “my friend!” And you, when you were Tortoise, ran leaping through the yard of the great court.
Thus I lament, unhappy Baucis, and make deep moan for you. These traces of you, dear maid, lie still glowing in my heart: all that we once enjoyed, is embers now.
We clung to our dolls in our chambers when we were girls, playing Young Wives, without a care. And towards dawn your Mother, who allotted wool to her attendant workwomen, came and called you to help with the salted meat. Oh, what a trembling the Bogy brought us then, when we were little ones! – On its head were huge ears, and it walked on all fours, and changed from one face to another!
But when you went to a man’s bed, you forgot all that you heard from your Mother, dear Baucis, in babyhood: Aphrodite set oblivion in your heart. So I lament you, yet neglect your obsequies — my feet are not so profane as to leave the house, my eyes may not behold a body dead, nor may I moan with hair unbound, yet a blush of shame distracts me…
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 90th birthday.
Lord what’s still not in store for us.
I’m sitting here and sitting. It’s raining without raining just as when a shadow returns to us a body.
I’m sitting here and sitting. Me here, my heart opposite and still further away my weary relationship with it. So we might seem many whenever emptiness counts us.
Empty room blowing. I hold tight to the way I have of being swept off.
I’ve no news of you. Your photo stationary. You stare as if coming you smile as if not. Dried flowers at one side incessantly repeating for you their unadulterated name semprevives semprevives—eternal, eternal in case you forget what you’re not.
I’m asked by time how I want it to pass exactly how I pronounce myself as edging or ageing. Foolishness. No end is ever articulate.
I’ve no news of you. Your photo stationary. Just as it rains without raining.
Just as a shadow returns to me a body. And just as we’ll meet one day up there. In some lush sparseness with shady unexpectations and evergreen rotations. As interpreter of the intense silence that we’ll feel —developed form of the intense intoxication caused by a meeting down here—will come a void.
And we’ll be enraptured then by a passionate unrecognition —developed form of the embrace employed by a meeting down here. Yes we’ll meet. Breathing fine, concealed form attraction. In a downpour of heavy lack of gravity. Perhaps on one of infinity’s trips to ad infinitum; at the ceremony for loss awards to the known for its great contribution to the unknown; guests at destination’s starlight, at cessation’s galas on behalf of dissolving causes and the skies’ farewell importances once great. Expect that this company of distances will be somewhat downcast, cheerless even if non-existence finds cheer from nothing. Perhaps because the soul of the party will be absent. The flesh.
I call to the ash to disarm me. I call upon the ash by its code name: Everything.
You’ll meet regularly I imagine you and the death of that dream. The last-born dream. Of all I had the best-behaved. Clear-headed, gentle, understanding. Not of course so dreamy but neither worthless or mean, no toady to all and sundry. A very thrifty dream, in intensity and errors. Of the dreams I raised my most loving: so I’d not grow old alone.
You’ll meet regularly I imagine you and its death. Give it my regards, tell it to come too without fail when we meet there, at the loss awards ceremony.
Love me as long as you don’t live. Yes yes the impossible’s enough for me. Once I was loved by that. Love me as long as you don’t live. For I’ve no news of you. And heaven forbid that the absurd should show no signs of life.
A man pulls his cart piled with clay olas maneuvers the knotted traffic olas for sale to contain cool water quench the sand starched mouth
Futile to unlock this tongue I’m lost here mazed into a pattern of textures and rhythms snatched by the clutches of the tied bird of prey in the zoo out of tune with the peacock caged in the pet store stitched into the canvas of human sweat to divulge the secret of this magnet that draws us near a reckless gesture stumbles into the ola cart scatters clay shards and continue
Listen to my words, echoes of noble breeding. You cannot deny I was snatched as a spoil of war, I, the daughter of a Banu Abbad king, a great king whose days were soured by time and chased away. When Allah willed to break us hypocrisy fed us grief and ripped us apart. I escaped but was ambushed and sold as a slave to a man who saved my innocence so I could marry his kind and honourable son. And now, father, would you tell me if he should be my spouse, and I hope royal Rumaika would bless our happiness.
Soft on a summer bed in the Languedoc a man in an Afghan prison sits with me watching his brother walking through snowdrifts to a village much like this one (boucherie, tabac, boulangerie, broken shutters) where a month’s supply of bullets lies secured in a box beneath his mother’s wedding carpet.
Turning the pages of Bruce Chatwin’s life I feel the ashy bodies shift and stutter downward through steel sticks broken on New York’s southern streets. Peruvian feathers hang in coloured blocks across the whiteness of a wall in England, the man in the snow takes another step forward, under a sky-blue burqa a woman writes to the man in prison without pen or paper.
Together we turn the pages, always together now. Lavender. Ash. Snow on a black beard.
Ma, I’m coming home that mountain towering over our city like a blue hue, beckons in the molasses folds of midnight his voice softens the folds of my ears and the south-easter sings in b-flat as it winds through my empty heart
Ma, I’m coming home my heart overflows with yearning and the tears roll down my cheeks like rocks and pull the breath from my lungs i have walked through the skin on the soles of my feet winding through another country’s streets another people’s pain I miss the sea and the smell of salt that finds its way to our front door on summer morning’s swollen with heat I miss the voices and words of my people and the way their tongues hold words in their mouths: flat and rough then sometimes flat and smooth the blood in my veins beats to a rhythm I cannot find in this green land
Ma, I’m coming home that mountain towering over our city like a blue hue, beckons in the molasses folds of midnight his voice softens the folds of my ears and the south-easter sings in b-flat as it winds through my empty heart Ma, I’m coming home it’s time to leave the world behind now it’s you who I want to lay beside