Antonio Gamoneda, Saturday

Translated from the Spanish by Donald Wellman


Sábado


Mi rostro hierve en las manos del escultor ciego.

En la pureza de los patios inmóviles él piensa dulcemente en los suicidas; está creando la vejez:

ayer y hoy son ya el mismo día en mi corazón.


* * *


El animal de llanto lame las sombras de tu madre y tú recuerdas otra edad: no había nada dentro de la luz; sólo sentías la extrañeza de vivir. Luego venía el afilador y su serpiente entraba en tus oídos.

Ahora tienes miedo y, de pronto, te embriaga la exactitud: la misma fístula invisible está sonando bajo tu ventana: ha venido el
afilador.

Oyes la música de los límites y ves pasar al animal del llanto.


* * *


La infección es más grande que las tristeza; lame los parietales torturados, entra en los dormitorios del sudo y del láudano y luego tiembla como un ala fría: es la humedad de los agonizantes.

Viene despacio la paloma impura, viene a los vasos llenos de sombra

y la ceniza capilar se extiende sobre vestigios de mercurio y llanto.

La lente anuncia la mendicidad pero su luz procede del abismo. Ante las córneas abrasadas penden los hilos del silencio. Luego

las desapariciones bajan el corazón.


* * *


El animal que llora, ése estuvo en tu alma antes de ser amarillo;

el animal que lame las heridas blancas,

ése está ciego en la misericordia;

el que duerme en la luz y es miserable,

ése agoniza en el relámpago.



La mujer cuyo corazón es azul y te alimenta sin descanso,

ésa es tu madre dentro de la ira;

la mujer que no olvida y está desnuda en el silencio,

ésa fue música en tus ojos.



Vértigo en la quietud: en los espejos entran sustancias corporales y arden palomas. Tú dibujas juicios y tempestades y lamentos.



Así es la luz de la vejez, así

la aparición de las heridas blancas.




* * *


Hay un muro delante de mis ojos.

En el espesor del aire hay signos invisibles,

hierba cuyos hilos entran al corazón lleno de sombra,

líquenes en el residuo del amor.



Incesto y luz. Piensa en la lente que precedía a la piedad, piensa en las aguas:

si yo pudiese atravesar la inexistencia se abrirían las fuentes de la misericordia

y habría ciegos cuyas grandes manos trabajarían dulcemente,

pero la cobardía es bella en los cabellos de mi madre y en ese muro está escrito el silencio.

Llanto en la lucidez, verdades cóncavas:

« No vale nada la vida, / la vida no vale nada ».



Recordad esta canción antes de mirar mis ojos;

mirad mis ojos en el instante de la nieve.


* * *


Tu nombre fue sólo viento en los labios de los suicidas.

Tu rostro fue labrado por la lluvia: sobre la ciega máscara aparecían surcos miserables y párpados y una boca amarilla, pero siguió lloviendo y, un instante, bajo las hebras transparentes, tu rostro fue posible y su belleza se confundía con la luz, pero siguió lloviendo y se perdió como la tierra desgastada por el llanto.

Indescifrables son tu nombre y tu rostro; quizá no has existido,

sin embargo, has llegado a la vejez y haces gestos impuros, también indescifrables.


* * *


Estoy desnudo ante el agua inmóvil. He dejado mi ropa en el silencio de las últimas ramas.

Esto era el destino:

llegar al borde y tener miedo de la quietud del agua.


* * *


El animal perfecto es feliz en los claustros y su lengua es melodiosa en el llanto.

Es feliz en la noche: entra en hembras amarillas que lloran sobre la nieve,

hembras amarillas entre los colectores y las tumbas.



Paz en mis ojos.

Veo el cal del corredor sin habitante (aquel anciano que describía suavemente su muerte).

En otros días, grandes en otra luz, del corredor desciende un torrente de lilas (de éstas, algunas son blancas y su perfume no nos pertenece),

la hierba aumenta ante las ménsulas (en otros días, los que suceden a la lluvia y son verano en las higueras hondas, sombra de tábanos azules roncos en su escritura transparente)

y huyen claras serpientes (las desovadas en letrinas fértiles, altas sobre las más lentas, las que agonizan en las uñas del animal perfecto).

Aquí, en los patios eclesiásticos, he mirado el fluir de los pájaros

y ahora es sábado en la nieve.

Paz en las tapias inmóviles. Hay noticias de monjes giratorios, altos in la imbecilidad hasta encontrar a Dios en la mirada del lagarto y en el olor de la adormidera;

paz en el balcón del miedo (esa quietud que hienden los gemidos): ya se producen las desapariciones y se vacía el corazón.

Está vacío, ciertamente, el corazón ante este patio en la noche

y la memoria de otros días, lentos en las sustancias que eran rencor en la dulzura (negra en la boca de los amantes, negra en las axilas de las madres), cesa

y cae Dios (máscara antigua; no de ese hueco de tu corazón sino del que hay delante de tu rostro).



Nada es veloz en tu memoria salvo los ojos del suicida, el que encendía árboles con sus manos expertas en la pobreza y en la ira;

nada es verdad y los presagios atravesaron en vano tus oídos, ah miserable ante la nieve.

Baja a la eternidad de las letrinas blancas hasta que sientas el silencio y su pureza te confunda,


oigas campanas y el huracán de las alondras,

veas el rostro inútilmente amado.



Has llegado al gran sábado de la vida.

En la blancura avanza el animal perfecto, ávido en la quietud, con su brasa amarilla.

Cesa en su llanto melodioso y, suavemente, orina.





Saturday

My face simmers in the hands of the blind sculptor.

In the purity of quiet courtyards he thinks with sweetness about suicides; he is creating old age:

yesterday and today are already the same in my heart.

* * *


The weeping animal licks the shadows of your mother; you remember another time: there was nothing inside the light; you only felt the strangeness of life. Later the knife grinder came and his snake penetrated your ears.

Now you are afraid and, suddenly, precision intoxicates you: the same invisible fistula resonates under your window: the knife grinder has arrived.

You hear the music of limits and you see the weeping animal approach.


* * *


Infection is larger than sadness; it licks tortured partitions, it penetrates the bedrooms of sweat and laudanum and later it shakes like a cold wing: it is the dampness of people who are dying.

The impure bird arrives slowly, comes to the cups full of shadow

and capillaries of ash spread over remnants of mercury and tears.

The lens reveals mendacity but its light comes from the abyss. In front of the scorched corneas hang threads of silence. Later

the disappearances depress the heart.


* * *


The animal that cries, the one in your soul that used to be yellow;

the animal that licks pale wounds,

that one is blind with compassion;

the one who sleeps in light and is miserable,

that one is dying in the lightning storm.



The woman whose heart is blue and who feeds you without rest,

that one is your mother inside her wrath;

the woman who does not forget and is naked in the silence,

that one was music to your eyes.



Vertigo in the stillness: corporal substances penetrate mirrors and doves burn. You describe judgments, tempests, and laments.



So is the light of old age, so

the appearance of pale wounds.




* * *


There’s a wall in front of my eyes.

In the thick air, there are invisible signs,

weeds whose threads penetrate the heart full of shadow,

lichen in the residue of love.



Incest and light. Consider the lens that comes before piety, consider the waters:

if I were able to cross nonexistence fountains of compassion would have opened

and there would be blind men whose big hands worked sweetly,

but cowardice is beautiful in my mother’s hair and on this wall silence is written.

Crying with a clear mind, concave truths:

“life values nothing / nothing values life.”



Remember this song before looking in my eyes;
look at my eyes the instant it snows.


* * *


Your name was only wind on the lips of the suicides.

Your face was irrigated by the rain: on the blind mask miserable furrows appeared and eyelids and a yellow mouth, but it continued raining and for an instant under the transparent sinews, your face materialized and your beauty was confused with the light, but it continued raining and it was lost like the earth spent by crying.

Your name and your face are indecipherable; maybe you have not existed,

still, you reached old age and make indecent gestures, also indecipherable.


* * *


I am naked in front of still water. I left my clothes in the silence of the final branches.

This was destiny:

to reach the edge and fear the quietness of the water.


* * *


The perfect animal is happy in the cloister and his tongue is melodious in lament.

He is happy at night; he penetrates yellow females who weep in the snow,

yellow females between the sewers and the tombs.



Peace in my eyes.

I see the whitewash of the uninhabited corridor (that old man who gently described his death).

On other days, large in another light, a torrent of lilies pours down the corridor (of these, some are white, their perfume unfamiliar),

the weeds multiply before the cantilevers (on other days, those summer days after rain on the dark figtrees, cloud of blue gnats hoarse in their transparent scriptures)

and transparent snakes flee (eggs laid in fertile latrines, high above the slowest, those who are dying under the nails of the perfect animal).

Here, in the ecclesiastic courtyards, I watched the flood of birds

and now it is Saturday in the snow.

Peace in the steady walls. There are notices about whirling monks, steeped in stupidity until meeting with God in the gaze of a lizard and in the scent of a poppy;

peace on the balcony of fear (that quietness split open by moaning): already disappearances occur and the heart is emptied.

Surely, the heart is empty at night in front of this courtyard

and the memory of other days, slow with substances that mixed rancor in sweetness (black in the mouth of lovers, black in the armpits of mothers), it stops

and God fell (ancient mask; not from that hollow of your heart but the one in front of your face).



Nothing is fleet in your memory but the eyes of the suicide, he who burned trees with his hands expert in poverty and rage:

nothing is true, the portents cross your hearing in vain, oh miserable one facing the snow.

Descend into the eternity of pale latrines until you feel silence and its purity confuses you,


you hear the bells and the hurricane of larks,

you see the face haplessly loved.



You have reached the big Saturday of life.

In the whiteness the perfect animal advances, avid in the quiet, with his yellow ember.

He stops his melodious crying and gently pisses.


• • •


Recently awarded the Cervantes Prize, as well as the Premio Reina Sophia, the poetry of Antonio Gamoneda (1931) is not currently available in English. In 1975, Gamoneda emerged from a long period of censorship, silence and depression, with the publication of Descripción de la mentira (León 1977). “Saturday” is the fifth poem in Libro del Frío, a distinctive collection, deeply marked by the dark years of the Franco dictatorship. Compromised integrity and deep-sympathy with fellow human suffering are contradictory aspects of the poem’s fabric of allusion. The poem conflates loss and terror, love and alienation, drawing narrative threads from the poet’s childhood and early adult years, his marriage and friendships. Among his several “suicides,” those who “disappeared” and those who passed prematurely, Gamoneda mourns the early loss of his father, also a modernist poet, who passed when Antonio was less than a year old. The landscape of Libro del Frío is the countryside around Léon, Gamoneda’s home since childhood. The images include hospitals and the affections and fears shared by a haunted people. The figure of a tormented animal, who appears and reappears in several verses of “Saturday,” combines a variety of male personas, intimidating presences to a child’s eye. The mother’s presence is also central to a narrative that seems to be woven from inexpressible substance. Gamoneda has asserted that in several senses the poem knows more than the poet. Composed in chains of verse paragraphs, employing a highly melodic prose, Gamoneda’s poetry is now collected in Esta Luz, (Barcelona: Galaxia Gutenberg, 2004).

L
iving in New Hampshire where he teaches cultural studies and writing at Daniel Webster College, Donald Wellman is a poet, translator and essayist. Fields, a selected poems appeared in 1995 (Light and Dust). An electronic broadside, drawn from his Notebook: Cuaderno de Costa Rica is scheduled for release by Mudlark. Other collections include Prolog Pages, Diario mexicano, and Oaxaca. Excerpts from these projects can be found in various on-line and print media: Eratio Postmodern Poetry, There, and Fascicle. Wellman has translated from French, German, and Spanish. Currently he is working with the Spanish poet, Antonio Gamoneda. For 12 years, he was the editor of O.ARS, a series of anthologies devoted to postmodern poetics and practices. Recent essays include “Creeley’s Ear” in Jacket Magazine 31 and “Aleatory displacement,” a review of Anne-Marie Albiach's Figured Image, tr. Keith Waldrop in Jacket Magazine 32 (April 2007). His “Prose on Uxmal” is in the current Absent Magazine. His translations from Yvan Goll have appeared in Circumference and in Calque.





























3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Without a doubt Gamoneda is one of the most original and deep voices of today's poetry written in Spanish.
There are a few others poems by him that I know that have been translated into English at the Cold Mountain Review (published by Appalachian State University in North Carolina, USA). Here is a link to a sample of what was printed:
http://www.coldmountain.appstate.edu/issues/spring_2006/gamoneda_birth_blues.htm

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Nill Smith said...
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