March 10, NY
White silence, absent birds.
Treetops blowing in the clouds
wound the landscape’s rhythm.
In the time between arising and disappearance
snow dissolves rock. And the sound of the wind,
our fruitless actions.
A sign (a shot) separates us from The Idea.
Slipping toward the void: the desert
senses the tremor.
Our lives become other lives,
ephemeral sparkle of glass.
The newborn dew
has become a brittle leaf.
Are we history? No, stain,
of impossible transcendence,
water among oaks. While
we sip the cup of bitter coffee
we linger over, inclining our faces.
Not history, but rather breath in search
of deepest green branches.
You cried, brilliance lost
and in the dark
with icy eyes
I feared seeing
an empty skiff in a waterless lake.
In your eyes I saw the sea born: ineffable clarity.
years, tunnels, electrified towers
to find my hands.
Fear is finding likeness itself.
is our worst nightmare.
Whom do we represent? Which part of the insect
encases the poison?
Every season, like every word,
brings its death
—almost out of reach—
of scattered violets. And the Logos?
Why should I want a Logos if
what I seek is to house
the light in other light?
There, to nest in darkness.
Finding the other part of fire,
the needle in the haystack, eye
texture, loose tacking
and leaving with hardly a trace.
Angelina did it in her writing
beneath Saint Michael’s sword—beneath the open sky—
in the grand mansions where lamps shed no light.
Reflected in the glass, the plum tree,
gravity and desire, contradiction
returning to the ur-image:
the spring among the stones,
and the cub, her gentleness there in the meadow,
at the edge of the glade, her eyes
rings of fire; the spittle on the
lioness’s tongue. Existence cannot escape fate.
Syllables scented with jasmine. I sowed words
in ancient flowerpots.
attempting to revive—what vacant house?
At five the hollow sacrifice
and over the cockerel, bells;
damp grass, insects on leaves
and the cry of a magpie. Echoes
of God, life. We die
far beneath the sky, fear
in the first and only beginning.
Mirror sky, tomb land,
there is no conclusion, no end. Thread
the light of fruit, cold, inside me.
Better to yield to the splendor
of the horizon.
God dreams our lives, no peace for the gods
who invented the word and war.
Fire speaks names. We speak with it
of light, we speak
the silence of light.
The dawn gives birth to the first ray
over the ochre brown
Of the cockerel.
God, I don’t know where you’ve gone.
Is there no end to a soul’s fear?
No measure for what we feel?
The light intensifies, irrevocably.
The hummingbird feeds on flowers, we
on desire. I peer silently at the sky.
An occasional flight scatters the violet of the landscape
for a sun that may suddenly sink
unaware of its own ascent.
This light speaks to us of roots
whose brilliance is lost
in the cold heart of water.
I hear and I don’t hear, I enter without entering
the other part of the sea
towards silence or the chasm of night.
Shadow of the August moon,
bird on the wing,
everything draws nearer. Reality that we
ourselves cannot behold.
March 10, 2003
The US begins bombing Baghdad
Translated by Samantha Schnee
Jeannette L. Clariond is a poet, translator, and the founder/director of Vaso Roto Ediciones Publishers (Spain & Mexico). Ms. Clariond has translated the Italian poet, Alda Merini, and Primo Levi’s poetic works; she is currently translating the collected poetry of Elizabeth Bishop. Clariond was invited to read her poetry at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, and, in June 2014, she returned to present her work on translation. On June 20, 2014 she received the Juan de Mairena Prize, presented as part of the Summer of Poetry Festival by the Department of Performing Arts and Literature at the University of Guadalajara. She has dedicated much of her career to the study of ancient philosophy and religion in Mexico, and has given seminars and lectures on the subject both in Mexico and abroad. Ms. Clariond is a collaborating member of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language, which has branches in Washington and New York.
Samantha Schnee’s translation of Carmen Boullosa’s Texas: The Great Theft (Deep Vellum, 2014) was long-listed for the International Dublin Literary Award, short-listed for the PEN America Translation Prize, and won the Typographical Era Translation Award. She won the 2015 Gulf Coast Prize in Translation for her excerpt of Carmen Boullosa’s The Conspiracy of the Romantics. Her translation of Spanish author Laia Fàbregas’s Landing was published by HispaBooks in 2016. She is the founding editor of Words Without Borders and currently edits “In Other Words,” the biannual journal on the craft of translation published by Writers’ Centre Norwich. She is also a trustee of English PEN, where she chaired the Writers in Translation committee for many years. Currently she is chairing the PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant jury and serves as Secretary of the American Literary Translators Association.
The fourth issue of LALT highlights underrepresented but deserving voices from across Latin America, with a focus on women writers as well as special sections dedicated to genre-bending science fiction, indigenous-language poetry and prose, and the essential relationship between author and translator.