Fire in Shadow
The house at certain angles like a tomb,
and all the dead seated at the table,
the spoons slowed by the weight of the world,
the meal prior to nourishing the earth.
Soon night will come, before even the afternoon,
and the violence of the wind will remind me
of the rotten songs that spoke of Christ.
The empty table reveals another age.
I will have all I love, and name it.
† 26 – 07 – 1995
The sun sets
bloodying my mother’s head
and her head is a garden
and the bloodied head of the south.
Morning greets me with her hand pulled out from the ground
my mother, with the sopping hat of dawn.
In the kitchen, the window rips apart the horizon.
I the loved girl nibble on crusts
I as child as girl leave my mother’s head.
Perplexed by the brief buzz of a fly, I sit
Morning greets me the with hand of my mother
bloody birth again.
Two Women Rung by Sunset
Oh god, lift my head buried in this wide endless path. Demons have beaten me back, tying me down with their cords of lament, of fire fed with blood, made pale sleepless in the flame of a soiled promise, hidden like me and flickering, among the trees, hiding my thirsty breast. And I bring water to its lips of tomorrow, and I feed it with its hand hidden in the depths of the leaves, in the wet wood of the forest that absorbs my stain like the hour of dusk in its reddened glove, in my reddened mouth, with the walls fanning us for speaking without mouths without pronouncement. This is all that I give of myself these nights, stretched out at its side like a river of heat and transmuted shadows. I have no hope other than seeing, this day crawling towards night.
Son, my beloved son of stone, this prison of land keeps me from your hand thrown into the sea, from your voice that comes to stem my bleeding, I am washing your name and disputing the dead. And so it goes, so they say, showing my shroud, the coagulated happiness of what remains. But pain, a promised pleasure, the air above my abandoned and taciturn bed -- What cut your breath, sunk in the thickness of death and these thickets of trees, drowned by the breaking of my cry? I would have walked through the coldest hours, I would have built you a ship of love that sailed to other latitudes. No longer can I keep quiet, still between sleeplessness and the dead light, knowing that I call you and the response is a chorus of words buried and not spoken, I have no hope other than seeing, this day crawling towards night.
Translated by Gwendolyn Harper
Christian Formoso (Punta Arenas, 1971) is a Chilean poet. He has published the verse collections
El odio o la ciudad invertida (1997), Memorial del padre miedo (2000), Los coros desterrados / Estaciones cercanas al sueño (2003), Puerto de hambre (2005), El cementerio más hermoso de Chile (2008), and bellezamericana (2014). Several of his poems have been translated to English and have appeared in anthologies in Chile and Latin America. Among other distinctions, he was awarded the National Council Prize for the Best Book Published in Chile for El cementerio más hermoso de Chile in 2009 and the Municipal City Prize of Punta Arenas and the Pablo Neruda Prize of the Pablo Neruda Foundation in 2010.
Gwendolyn Harper has translated work by Chilean writers Pedro Lemebel, Lina Meruane, and Nelly Richard, as well as the Spanish author Emilia Pardo Bazán. Her translations and essays have appeared in D21 Editions, JoLT, and The Caravan. She will be starting an MFA in fiction at Brown University this fall