Three Poems

Colombian poet Camila Charry Noriega.

In life we only love the beings passing by like messengers from another world.
Nicolás Gómez Dávila

In the Word

the river
courses uphill 
restoring time, 
life, 
what’s torn down.
But life is a river circling back
and rubble, 
the days’ violence 
where god exists. 

A dog waits for us
in the unthinkable depths that pierce the word,
lingers in the light
in life’s underside
and he’s wounded by his farness here
his song beneath the rain 
his worn out flesh, soft tongue.

Poetry can’t put bones and teeth back together 
and the dog eyes us from those unthinkable depths that are death; 
still, his drive deems him cardinal. 

Certain things
dwell in the force of the unnamed, 
certain abysses in life
never touched by language, 
things brightened only from inner
soft light
held back in their state of latency.

Every so often an outside thing sets them to burn;
poetry that in life is breath 
sends us back to the opening 
to a dissolved image of the signs they’re called;
the word from far off
loosens them from the past 
uproots them from quiet nonbeing.

Yet in this room all things have a proper name;
a dog glimpses days he’s not a part of,
has a name,
since it’s a thing of life to name
all that flames and flows. 

We know the past of those lonely things
looking out at us from impossibility, 
its strength has singled us out.  

We pass among them mindful of the dust
we shake off each week,
they are life 
and for them our name
is a fingerprint 
or our turning them over so they’re out of the sun.

They keep on unscathed. 

Unlike us, 
they rejoice in a merciful god
who saves them from ruin. 

 

Calvary

The cow lies down across the grass and waits for the wound
the knife’s glint; 
that second of oblivion leading to otherness.
To prevent hunger
the mother plunges her son’s face
into the cow’s warm entrails;
that universe of flesh and insides.
The boy gazes for a moment
into the dead cow’s open eyes
and fathoms his own,
his muffled voice
distorted by his breath
and the last breath of what exists.

 

Magdalena

From an old ceiba tree
three soldiers hang a brown spotted dog. 
As if mirroring gestures of a cruel spirit 
they try to tear off the animal’s head
try to separate it from its body.
In turns they tense the chain
joining the dog to the tree
they smoke, 
laugh 
drink aguardiente
in makeshift cups from a calabash tree.

They kill time in the jungle, 
relish when the dog howls 
and their flat animal is drawn out dreadfully 
until finally the head
separates from the body.
Then they take up their rifles in silence
and go back through the thick jungle
unruffled
to their nighttime rounds.

 

Translated by Olivia Lott

Languages

LALT No. 3
Number 3

The third issue of LALT features the debut of our permanent section devoted to Indigenous Literature with writing in languages from Mapudungun to Tzotzil, as well as remarkable short stories from Cristina Rivera Garza and Yoss, the rising star of Cuban science fiction.

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