Paired Poems from Beasties

 

Photo: Manuel Cordero, Unsplash.

Butterfly

The real trails low, can’t fly, a peacock’s train.
But butterfly’s a moment made a thing,
so violent in the fluttering of her wing,
a wind which lingers slowly and so vain,

which grows impatient and unfurls. A sneer
against the death she wears: a fancy’s flight,
like all the eye believes that is in sight
—or almost all—but is not real; turns sheer

and shines, turns golden, makes a muted dance
from its mutation. While the real adorns,
dissuades, and tires, and adds to every dawn
a substance meek and blind, taking her chance,

she ties the air to her unleashed desires:
the butterfly, a moment that expires.

Ezequiel Zaidenwerg, translated by Ben Bollig

 

Your Butterfly

And now you’ve penned, in your pain,
a poem of love, despite some frozen ground,
keeping pronouns out.
“The moment”, “real”, “vain”—
it all sounds quite highbrow, things that don’t ring true
an instant after youth,
when there is no sin
in your self-delight. The same applies
to your butterfly (is she yours?)—
alone, she’s happiness,
and you have to let her pass
because love can only hold off death
the duration of a breath. You had success:
you had her, she was yours,
if only for a day or two.
Or is that peacock really you,
stolid, handsome, sound,
who proudly fans his frill,
but at the last, of love, can only know
the bill?

Mirta Rosenberg, translated by Mark Leech

 

Scorpion

The scorpion is made with fleshy back
whose arm holds out a blade. It’s me? Or you?
Two pins, but blunt, pin cushion that’s run through.
It’s not a front. It’s us. It matters jack-

shit: if the world’s a thimble, metal hand-
kerchief, then why not duel? We can make
ourselves into arachnids, our scars nac-
red, but the void that stings can also stand

as lure and bait. So come on, just admire
the scorpion, whose fate, allure and skill
to hypnotize with tales perhaps he will
soon tell. No lies. For though he’ll freeze in fire

in front of us he dangles our shared story
just like a carrot leading on a donkey.

Ezequiel Zaidenwerg, translated by Ben Bollig

 

Your Scorpion

Here is where desire halts.
                                    Here
it turns ugly and walks
with the Scorpion —capital letter—
who eliminates anxiety
and that fierce necessity.

                                You two have a dagger
lent you by this creature,
that will quell the spell
and cut the nets
that held you both subject.

No one cared to be the object.

Desire among these beasts,
my friends, if I don’t mistake,
                            fleshes out the plot.

As ever, no one can see
what’s most at stake
in this game of he and she:
who played the donkey
and who the dangled carrot?

Mirta Rosenberg, translated by Mark Leech

 

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Fogwill in LALT
Number 15

In our August 2020 issue, we celebrate the work of women writers and translators in honor of Women in Translation Month, highlighting the work of Victoria de Stefano, Krina Ber, Rowena Hill, and Margara Russotto—four women united by the coincidence of emigrating to Venezuela and becoming renowned writers in Spanish. We also pay homage to a giant of Latin American letters, Rodolfo Enrique Fogwill, on the tenth anniversary of his passing, and we highlight the work of Mé’pháá writer Hubert Matiúwàa in our Indigenous Literature section. This #WITMonth issue is rounded out with exclusive previews of upcoming books from women translators and an interview with translator Annie McDermott, plus poetry, fiction, interviews, and reviews of fascinating new releases from across Latin America.

Cover Photo: Grupo Mondongo

Table of Contents

Editor's Note

Featured Author: Fogwill

Four Venezuelan Women Writers

Fiction

Poetry

Essays

Chronicle

Interviews

Indigenous Literature

Translation Previews and New Releases

On Translation

Nota Bene