Rafael Felipe Oteriño: 3 Poems

Translated from the Spanish by Lisa Rose Bradford


Se oyen voces (Príncipe de la fiesta 1983)

Como anillos rodando,
o gotas de miel, o espejos,
o dientes desenterrados
por un agua furiosa,
han comenzado a salir.

Abro la boca y están ahí:
flotan en la espuma
y se acuestan en el mar,
son fieles a la razón profunda
que las baña.

Han aprendido
todas las astucias
y no las puedo matar.
Trepan a mis piernas
como si fueran
naturaleza abandonada.


Voices are heard

Like rolling rings,
or drops of honey, or mirrors,
or teeth unearthed
by raging water
they've begun to rise.

I open my mouth and there they are:
they float on foam
and lay themselves down in the sea,
they're loyal to the deepest reason
that bathes them.

They've learned
all the tricks
and I am unable to kill them.
They come crawling up my legs
like the rampant vines of nature.

///

Mis amigos poetas (Príncipe de la fiesta 1983)

Mis amigos poetas son como chicos en los aeropuertos:
corren de un lado a otro pidiendo información que de inmediato olvidan,
confunden la lista de espera con el purgatorio
y temen más el silencio de sus propias voces
que la noticia de un avión perdido en la inmensidad.

Sentados en sillas que no se tienen en pie
discuten largas horas las probabilidades de un vuelo,
conmovidos por el estampido que hacen las almas al partir.
Darían su vida por leer en el cielo las señales de arribo
y por un solo verso se desprenden de todas las manos.


My poet friends

My poet friends are like children in an airport:
they run from one counter to another asking for information
they immediately forget,
they confuse the waiting list with purgatory
and have more fear of the silence of their own voices
than the news of a plane lost in the immensity.

Seated in rickety chairs
they spend long hours discussing the probabilities of a take-off,
moved by the stampede of those departing souls.
They would give their lives to read the arrival signs in the sky
and for one lonely line they let go of every hand.

///

La caverna (unpublished)

Tiene la sustancia del mundo: la oscuridad;
una boca por entero abierta,
largos silencios de gigante que no se entienden;
el viento ha arrojado allí unas pocas palabras,
pero no son más que palabras, pues no regresan.

Yo permanezco a su lado: del lado del fuego.
Custodio la entrada y me observo
recortado en la sombra (no soy más que sombra).
Tengo la sustancia de los hombres:
fragilidad y asombro, entrega y obstinación.


The cave

It holds the world's substance: darkness;
a mouth wholly open,
long silences of a giant beyond comprehension;
the wind has hurled a few words inside,
but nothing more than words since they will never come back.

I stay here alongside: on the side of the fire.
I guard the entrance and notice my shadow
has been clipped (I am reduced to shadow).
I hold the substance of men:
frailty and surprise, surrender and tenacity.

///

Lisa Rose Bradford teaches Comparative Literature at the Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata and works as visiting professor of Translation Studies at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina. Presently, she is researching postmodern poetry and editing an anthology of U.S. women’s poetry in Spanish, Los pájaros, por la nieve for RIL (Chile). Her verse has been printed in the Poetry Now 2008 calendar issue and will be included in the 2008 Thorny Locust. Beatriz Viterbo published two of her books on literary translation Traducción como cultura, La cultura de los géneros. Her versions of Argentine poetry will be appearing in Faultline.

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