Tuesday, November 05, 2013

From "Narrar" (To Tell)

Here's the opening movement of Maria Baranda's Narrar, published in 2001 by Ediciones Sin Nombre of Mexico City.  This translation also appeared in eleven eleven 15, published by California College of the Arts.  The word tokonoma refers to a poem by Jose Lezama Lima, the Cuban poet who inspired the neobarroco movement in Latin American poetry.  A tokonoma is a room in a Japanese house that is designed entirely to give pleasure and a sense of calm through the beauty and balance of the objects in it.  In addition to Narrar, I have translated Baranda's 55-page poem Yegua nocturna corriendo en un prado de luz absoluta (Nightmare Running on a Meadow of Absolute Light).

To Tell
María Baranda                                                                  

Her horrendous voice, not her inner sorrow

 A cry
a single cry
just a cry
to the open air
a cry of porpoise or dolphin
of incandescent fish by the water
a cry of the sea that breaks and repeats
that empties
and in the time of salt
says everywhere what it says
that swells
that glows
a cry
a single cry
just a cry
of the blue inconceivable sky
that repeats
that advances
that grazes among the algae
the fetid rumor of the brackish
a providential cry in the voice of air
an unsustainable rhythm
in the throat
A cry that knots itself
in symphonic circles of joy
A terrible cry
that announces the first death
that stands on precarious feet
and dismantles shadows and grumbling
A cry that must choose
for between the walls the liquid deepens 

The wall as a cardinal point
an agonizing smile
in the punctual
of the one who is drowning
A cry disbanded
in a garden with thickets
a dream of  blue light for the birds
A cry that in itself
is the size of the sea
and lives at the center of  rapture
and with each step it yields
to the delirium of a sponge
that inflates in sweat and gives glory
to the time of silent prayers
A cry is the caiman’s vigil
the unleashed whip of an ant
the fan of  yes the same immaculate
air of an inhospitable grudge
that bends
The cry that smells of salt
a wild beast dry
in the dusky collapse
of your herd
The cry distilled from minutes
marks the world that is world forever
in an open moment where never
passes nothing and everything dissolves
hurling itself to the bottom

Nothingness is reason falling
finally it’s emptiness
its bend in the road most refreshing
when the tree
is erected in delirium
in order to sing from its purgatory
its novice illusions
almost vertigo
A cry is sleepless in its dream
faded almost hoarse it stuns itself
like a crippled animal
the cry breathes sleep inside
its eyes and evokes a sacrifice
a dark joy in a spiral of weeping 
The cry moans weeps wallows
glacial polygamous decrepit
sinking into flakes and scales
into mud
the cry sleeps alone
in the hollow of useless blindfolds
its intoxicated pallor
in its cadence and fatigue
it buzzes between the glasses and the cans
the remains are still ripe
and the sweet song
of the flies to vacancy
The cry is deeply in love
and sweet together with the soft souls
Rosa in order to tell it to Rose
is a corrupt luxury
a brief heart
that detracts
The cry is the insistence
on misery is the sharp bite of hunger
under the yoke of a sugar mill
a fire burning
among dogs and rats
is a shadow that crosses
the fetid waters of wonder
and it’s the clamor of three nights
of the sickness of women, hens, and female deer
when the gods
lose their harmony and quickly
offer their shame to the twilight 

The cry is air
air that only blossoms
in the half-light of funerals
The cry is the voice of the obsequies
a wafer in the pupils
which prays “Praise be to God
without God’s silent cry
infinitely bitter and dry
and the newlywed God the round impostor
who belches who vomits who repeats
fragrant at the pit and doesn’t say
not to purify the skin
devour candles and beautify
blind beneath the definitive sun
lethargic in the accounting
of a glass beaded God summit
red-hot incredulous God
who doesn’t ask for pardon
in the omen of dead birds.”

 a cry
a single cry
just a cry
it whips in lines
and looks dissolved
between the vertices of song
(sings among the captive petals
And don’t forget me in the diaspora
sing sing deadly like an archangel
about about to shout his song)
The cry is erased
between the breasts that slander
sinks convenes seizes
becomes and is consumed
penetrates licks fits
in cartilage of fire
where it resides

 The cry is just a number
a notch at the base of the wall
as meticulous
as a tokonoma
utmost swiftness of spirit
freezes the Cuban’s print
bevels the aperture in the absurd
that dominates corners of the language
that exposes itself as a maelstrom
of all the whales in the sea
is an emaciated shell
adhering to the pale shadow
that crosses our sleep
The cry
is a mixture of sperm
and civil life
in living circumstances
a sign of those black fruits
where peace putrefies
streaked by oblivion
where their error is overheard
in a Parthenon of voices
and the air unfolded fornicates
voluptuously and never knows
of the children awakening
in endless tunnels

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