Poetry, translation

Canto

by Mario Bojorquez

Translated by George Eklund

 

 

Lord, grant me self pity and respond to my labor.
Francisco Cervantes

I

With a heavy wound, no longer a rope around the neck
With the empty noose and the erect grief
That does not beg anymore
That the worm-eaten bone is not beaten
Nor the last vision
Nearly unified here
I begin to remember a shadow of another time
Moored to docks of the air
I begin to remember and speak
Seven words a dull harvest for your cruel memory
Beyond the river
Where the city rests in its bright diving suit
Where I dreamed some day to return
In order to remain myself
The desires evaporating
There remains of me only a vague essence
That no longer names me
No longer containing all the vigor,
The luster of another burning time.

II

Field of onions
For your sad stroll
With the breeze bordering
Its spiritual leaf
In the furrow of flames
Opening itself
In the crack of the earth
With its bitter fruit
Its heart of air
In the tightened sky
Its fist of miseries
Decanting the liquor
Of yellow almonds.

III

You approach
The courtyards
Of the finest homes,
Your noisy implements
Alter the barking
You appear
A phantom
Moving through the air

IV

You will return weeping in the final summit
Your sensitive hearing will untie the blowing of flutes
That proclaim you with your face barely washed
By the worthless touch of fluids
Your trembling hand will clutch the heavy walking stick
Like the orphaned grass on the edge of the abyss.

V

What ruined gums
For your four teeth
What a back
That curved
Now no longer feels
The weight of criminal gravestones
What desolate
Breathing
Gets you to your feet

VI

You remained without an earth
Scattered in particles of dust
You remained in your going
The going gave you your home
Carved your shadow
Placed on the patio
Your pot of frozen lilies
But also in the going
Desires remained
Planted at the edge of the road
A forest of cream flowers
For your swift feet.

VII

You once mentioned the woods that clothed you
In your childhood
Its mast-high joy
And mossy darkness
That’s why returning
Going back in the burning breeze
In the glassy flakes of your eyes
Cannot save you any more
You will not surrender your sword-humbled captain
You’ll not be given a handkerchief
You will not dry your tears
You hear the cry of the goat-boy
The gleaming cow-bells in the afternoon air
The herd that gathers at the edge of the past.

VIII

Those friends of yours
Will extend their hands
Like those who offer a receipt to collect
A detailed lawyer’s bill of all your betrayals
But they will never know
That you have paid those debts already
That you are no longer worth anything
Not even the hard breathing
That keeps you so proud.

IX

No one will ever be able to speak of you
I had your honest hand joined in mine
Clutching desire
Creating from a shared force, a common dream
If someone saw you they never knew the color of your eyes
The uterine vein of your spirit
You just took a step back
And a gesture that showed goodness froze on your mouth
And from your tongue sprang
A stained branch of sleepless petals
Which left an eternal scent for the hearing
But never a clear word

X

And so these days you return
Now no one remembers your face between the stones
No one bows to your breast
The memory of a sun for a cool face
Your distracted hands in brilliant bronze
There are no golden herbs in your path
For the necessary infusion of your remembrance
Nor a resinous balm for your skin
Burned by the tropical sun
Not even the light of your own past

XI

Because your hands left the chisel
At the edge of ancient filings
Your hands that worked your mouth
To say words where the north grew longer
Nothing
Not a night procession of sap-filled loins
An errant continent grafted to the breast
A minimal silence that says yes, onward
That puts your feet on the familiar path
Take your direction without looking back
Happy at least
Knowing that you’re away and have already gone.

 

CANTO

Ao pé d’um xardim
Pússeme a cantar
Por ela e por mim
Ao pé das laranxas
Dixe mhã canço
De cor pombas brancas
Ao pé d’um xardim
Pússeme a cantar
Por ela e por mim
Hugo Vidal
Dame, Señor, piedad para mí mismo
Y que mi obra te responda.
Francisco Cervantes

I

Con la pesada llaga ya sin cuerda en el cuello
Con el dogal vacío y la enhiesta pesadumbre que no implora ya más
Que no tunde ya el hueso carcomido, ni la visión postrera
Aquí cerca del junto
Me pongo a recordar muelles del aire donde atracó la sombra de otro tiempo
Me pongo a recordar y digo
Siete palabras sin brillo de cosecha para tu cruel memoria
Que allende el río
Donde la ciudad reposa con luciente escafandra
Donde soñé algún día volver para quedarme
Se van desvaneciendo los deseos
Y de mí sólo queda una vaga sustancia que no me nombra ya
Que no contiene todo el vigor, la lumbre de otro tiempo encendido.

II

Campo de cebollas
Para tu triste deambular
Con la brisa bordeando
Su hoja espiritual
En el surco de llamas
Abriéndose
En la hendidura de la tierra
Con su fruto amargo
Su corazón de aire
En el cielo apretado
Su puño de miserias
Decantado licor
De almendras amarillas

III

Te acercas
A los patios
De las primeras casas
El ruido
De tus trastos
Altera los ladridos
Pareces
Una sombra
Que se mueve
En el aire

IV

Regresarás del llanto en la postrera cumbre
Tu oído sensitivo desliará el soplo de flautas
Que te anuncian con cara deslavada
Por el fútil contacto de fluidos
Tu mano trémula se aferrará al báculo torpe
Como las hierbas huérfanas al borde del abismo

V

Qué desmedrada
Encía
Para tus cuatro dientes
Qué espalda
Que encorvada
Ya no distingue
El peso de lápidas atroces
Qué desolada
Respiración
Te pone en pie

VI

Te quedaste sin tierra
Dispersa partícula de polvo
Te quedaste en el irte
El ir te dio tu casa
Labró tu sombra
Puso en el patio
Tu maceta de lirios congelados
Pero en el ir también
Quedaron los deseos
Plantados a orillas del camino
Arboleda de natas
Para tu pie ligero

VII

Sólo nombraste el bosque que te vistió de niño
Su alegre arboladura
Su tenebra de musgo
Por eso es que volver
Regresar en el soplo ardiente
En la escama de vidrio de tus ojos
No puede ya salvarte
No entregarás tu espada capitán abatido
No te dará un pañuelo esa mano
No limpiarás tus lágrimas
Oyes llamando el grito del cabrero
El cencerro espigando el aire de la tarde
El hato que congrega el pasado a la vera

VIII

Aquellos tus amigos
Extenderán sus manos
Como quien tiende un recibo por cobrar
Una minuta detallada de todas tus traiciones
Pero nunca sabrán
Que tú has pagado ya las deudas
Que no hay nada que valgas
Ni siquiera el resuello que te mantiene erguido

IX

Ninguno podrá jamás decir de ti
Tuve su mano franca junto a la mía estrechando el deseo
Haciendo de una fuerza común un compartido sueño
Si alguien te vio no supo nunca el color de tus ojos
La vena matriz de tu corazón
Apenas diste un paso para retroceder
Y un gesto que acusaba bondad se congeló en tu boca
Y de tu lengua sólo saltó un desflorado ramo de pétalos insomnes
Que dejaba al oído siempre un olor
Pero nunca una palabra clara

X

Por eso hoy que regresas
Ya nadie reconoce tu rostro entre las piedras
Nadie un saludo un gesto que te confirme el pecho
La memoria de un sol para la cara fresca
Tus manos distraídas en el fulgor del bronce
Nada a tu paso es hierba de oro para la necesaria infusión de tu recuerdo
Ni una resina un bálsamo para tu piel quemada por el sol de los trópicos
Ni siquiera la lumbre de tu propio pasado

XI

Porque dejan tus manos el cincel en el borde de antiguas limaduras
Tus manos que labraron tu boca para decir palabras donde el norte crecía
Nada
Ni un cabalgar de noche a lomos de la savia
Un continente errante en el pecho injertado
Un mínimo silencio que diga sí, adelante
Que te ponga los pies en la vereda conocida
Y tomes rumbo sin volver la mirada
Alegre al menos
De saber que te vas que ya te has ido

 

Translator’s Notes

In preparing for my spring 2013 sabbatical from Morehead State University, I knew I wanted to translate contemporary poems from the Spanish to English. I happened upon uspoetsinmexico quite by chance and began to correspond with their director, Sheila Lanham. I sent her some of my poems in English and Spanish along with some translations. I asked her to recommend a Mexican poet whose work might welcome the adventures of translation. She contacted Mario Bojorquez, who has been a featured reader at the uspoetsinmexico annual January conference.

Bojorquez was kind enough to send me manuscripts of two of his recently published works. I chose to work with his award-winning book of poems, El deseo postergado. I especially admire its relentless drive to the core of a “total wound” that creates the book’s center of gravity. I am also attracted to the rich, inventive language that churns and leaps through these poems.

Mario Bojorquez has a strong and expanding reputation as one of his generation’s most valued poets. In 2007 he was awarded the Premio Nacional de Poesia Aguascalientes, a major national prize. Additional honors include the Abigael Bohorquez prize, the Nacional Clemencia Isaura and the Nacional de Poesia Enriqueta Ochoa. His volume, El deseo postergado, has been awarded the first Premio Alhambra de Poesia Americana.
Bojorquez is currently Profesor de Retorica en la Fundacion para las Letras Mexicanos where he conducts poetry workshops. He is also a translator and an editor for the electronic review, Circulo de Poesia. This July my spouse and I plan to visit Mario Bojorquez in Mexico and continue working together to bring his beautiful and generous voice to English readers.

 

*****************************************

George Eklund is in his 24th year on the writing faculty at Morehead State University.  He has published two full length volumes and four chapbooks.  His latest collection, The Island Blade, has been recently reviewed in The Iowa Review.

His work has appeared in ABZ, The American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Bayou Magazine, Conduit, Crazyhorse, EPOCH, The Iowa Review, The Massachsetts Review, New Ohio Review,  North American Review, Redactions, Sycamore Review, Tinge, Toad, and Willow Springs, among others.

He has a professional site on facebooK:  Poems from Willow Drive.

 

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