is a field
as long as the butterflies say
it is a field
with their flight
it takes a long time
like light or sound or language
we have more
than six sense dialect
adjusting to time
the distance and its permanence
i have found my shortcuts
where i first took form
in the field
Copyright © 2022 by Marwa Helal. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 3, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
translated by Ana Valverde Osan
To say goodbye means so little.
We said goodbye to childhood
and it came after us like a dog
tracking our steps.
To say goodbye: to shut that obstinate door that refuses to remain closed,
the persistent scar that oozes memory.
To say goodbye: to say no; who achieves it?
Whoever found the magic key?
Whoever found the point that slides us toward oblivion,
the land that will extirpate the roots
without remaining forever closed over them?
To say goodbye: to turn one’s back; but
who knows where the back is?
Who knows the way that does not die in the well-traveled shortcut.
To say goodbye: to yell because one is saying something
and to cry because nothing is being said;
because saying goodbye is never enough,
because to say goodbye completely
might be to find the spot where to turn one’s back,
the spot to sink oneself into the final no
while life slowly seeps out.
Decir adiós quiere decir tan poco.
Adiós dijimos a la infancia
y vino detrás nuestro como un perro
rastreando nuestros pasos.
Decir adiós: cerrar esa obstinada puerta que se niega,
la persistente cicatriz que destila memoria.
Decir adiós: decir que no; ¿quién lo consigue?
¿quién encontró la mágica llave?
¿quién el punto que nos desliza hasta el olvido,
la mano que extirpará raíces
sin quedarse para siempre cerrada sobre ellas?
Decir adiós: volver la espalda; pero
¿quién sabe donde está la espalda?
¿quién conoce el camino que no muere en el pisado atajo?
Decir adiós: gritar porque se está diciendo
y llorar porque no se dice nada;
porque decir adiós nunca es bastante,
porque tal vez decir adiós completamente
sea encontrar el recodo donde volver la espalda,
donde hundirse en el no definitivo
mientras escapa lentamente la vida.
Francisca Aguirre, “Farewell / Despedida” from Ithaca. Copyright © 1972 by Francisca Aguirre. Translation copyright © 2004 by Ana Valverde Osan. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.
I began to die, then. I think
I was asleep. Dreaming
of an afterlife that revised
my flesh into what
I had wanted. Why do
I think of Ronald Reagan
the way one recalls
the sick heart and terror
which is percussive.
Was this the year
I saw him at the airport.
Men grimly tested
my body for hidden death,
waving a wand up
and down. My left arm
and it was surgery
that put it right. Look,
if you want, at
the pale stippling of scar,
there. Some nights I wake
and everything hurts
a little. It is
amazing how long
a ruined thing
will burn. In the night,
there are words,
though often I've denied
their shape. Their sound.
My soul: whatever
it sings it is singing.
Copyright © 2018 by Paul Guest. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 10, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.