Examples of Estrangement
Any one of these cars in their slow procession along the beach
their lights sliding beneath your apartment, from vertex to cracks,
floating over the cliffs, in the mist, which suddenly self-governs.
The strange retreat of light in a futurist city on the verge of collapse
only miles from la virgen negra in her twisting grotto. Warning.
The buzzing that can be heard from the dunes, the stone pits
where locusts nymph and nest, sheltered by vertigo.
What part do you find strange, that the blows come from the walls
that this unmistakable noise comes from the warm insides of the cliffs.
What indifference, working at stone that drops down into a mouth,
smoothed of feeling. The exasperating roundness of a stone in a river
useless at the end of its journey.
Pleasure, a rush of pleasure on this sunny day, the grass
delicate and always green, the white attire, my cousin’s
tee shirt stretched across those beautiful breasts.
The birdie bounces from racket to racket, elevated
and zig-zagging towards indescription.
Where it hurts to look at the sun, and the taste
of strawberries, the hopeless wormwood. No. Just so
the breeze, the hill, the game preserve where grandfather
strikes at the wind with a Mauser rifle and silences
the partridge, the bumblebee, the hare.
And all at once, a flurry of movement before the birdie returns
a bit of its stubborn certainty to the perpetual Void.
(far from those irritating Latin American proyectitos)
The swallowing plants of a moralizing evangelist
grow in red earth contaminated by mine dumps.
Like in those locked cities where among other
habits of mind they balk at aftershocks, assuming
most unwillingly a new form, a new thought.
Our capitals are twisted by the sound of the invisible
guillotine, or what remains of her, dulling the knives
to compensate for the hurried blindness of pasture.
What will half the time burn the victim according to rule
and manifesto. That angel, barefoot and impaled, started the fire
on a morning of enviable mildness. From the air
the field takes the shape of a crucifix that separates the plots
according to species. When irrigating the water
filters viscous down to the roots. Like good will.
And this viscosity is at best the end of a process
winding out from the metropolis. When at the age of thirty
it becomes harder to know what is yours and what is others.
You have the vague sense that you belong to no place.
But you know that this land is contaminated with its grids
that begin a few miles from a city bursting with average
and ordinary citizens and this finally unsettles you.
Translated by Gwendolyn Harper
Marcelo Guajardo Thomas (Santiago, 1977) is a Chilean poet. He has published Un momento propicio para el exilio: Poesía reunida 2002-2010 (2011), Puerta azul en muro de adobe (2014), and Los celacantos y otros hechos extraordinarios (2015), for which he received the National Council Book Prize for Best Published Work. He also received the Barco de Vapor Prize in 2013 for his novel La bicicleta mágica de Sergio Krumm.
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