Three Poems from The Agony of Earthly Days

 

Merry-Go-Round. Photo: Juliana Arruda, Unsplash.

A Certain Nostalgia for Something



Where is it now,
the box that’s missing
from the inventory we never took?
In the moving truck? In some dark and hidden
corner 
of the closet we inspected one last time
and took for bare?
We paint our walls a different color. We impose
our reasoning of furniture and nails;
lamps, like in an exhibition, that we fix
to suit the ambience dictated by the piece,
our work adapted to the environment
of periodic substitutions.
And yet we can’t forget
the missing box. What was it
that it had inside?
Something we once decided that we wanted
out of sight, so we could keep 
it out of mind? Something
we never managed to 
give up? 
The logic of displacement leaves behind
a certain nostalgia for something
we once believed
could matter. 

 

The Agony of Earthly Days



Let’s say you move to another country. You cross
the continental air and shift from bed to bed
just like those fugitives who never
empty out their packs or change
their clothes. But this
is just a phase of the merry-go-round
whose early ardent speed will start 
to slow. So you become
a voyeuristic turtle (poet)
beneath the shell of any old
employee: a regular participant in rush hour,
well-versed in all the minor obligations
that your pocket and your style
allow. But this
is just a phase of the merry-go-round
whose early ardent speed will start 
to slow. One day,
let’s say the subway line’s delayed: the speaker slurs
the classic euphemism. You show up later
than you usually do. You shrink beside her (who’s almost always earlier 
to almost everything) in one of the last beds
along this journey. You wonder (mentally, let’s say)
how two gazes that share
the agony of earthly days 
can last so long
and yet be happy in the transience
of the mistake.

 

Score



The beginning is grandiloquent.
Then comes the purge.
Like this rain that impatiently embarked
on its descent, now reduced
to intermittency across the metal
roofs. Absorbed
in my delay and with no plans
to leave the bed, I hear
the weak bombardment, imagining
this possible score:
the cloudy city turned
into a horizontal mirror,
someone who doesn’t notice as
he treads and ruins his reflection,
someone who treads and recognizes
his unstable identity.

Translated by Robin Myers

 

Visit our Bookshop page to buy books translated by Robin Myers and support local bookstores.

Languages

LALT No. 14
Number 14

The fourteenth issue of Latin American Literature Today features dossiers dedicated to the dislocated writing of Latin American authors based in the United States and the gothic fiction of Mariana Enriquez, plus reflections on writing in a second language by Fabio Morábito, an interview with 2019 Alfaguara Prize winner Patricio Pron, and exclusive translation previews from Guadalupe Nettel, Gabriela Wiener, and Luis Alejandro Ordóñez.

Table of Contents

Editor's Note

Featured Author: Mariana Enriquez

Dislocating Writing: Latin America Rewrites Estados Unidos

Poetry

Fiction

Essays

Interviews

Brazilian Literature

Indigenous Literature

Translation Previews and New Releases

On Translation

Nota Bene