Saturday, April 17, 2010 12:49 am

translated by Ilana Luna and Cheyla Samuelson

Water on water: the tone and the timbre. Impossible to describe the deep empty longing in the voice of birds. This childhood happened elsewhere. The light, as thin as a thread through the eye of the astral needle. Lyme Regis is a town on the coast. The howling of the wind. The taste of salt on the lips, on the neck, right on the tip of the nose. There’s a green that can only be perceived in dreams. There’s no echo without a wall, in effect. Then the girl turned to look at me: you still don’t remember this moment? she asked. Or said. In time I grew expert in wrapping myself up in a black cloak. Someone would sing on the other side of the world; someone else would raise their hand or their voice or their gaze. As far as I know Meryl Streep was never a redhead. Turning corners: the body that departs. Tolling bells: the body that will never return. But how white the foam on the crest of the waves looks! I’ll forget it, I had to admit. The accent marks the longest separation. Skimming: two words that fly over bodies of water, the ocean. What? she asked again. Stupefied is a spectacular adjective. Nobody abandoned you, I had to yell each word for her to hear me. The echo: the wall: the effect. Understanding is just as likely as misunderstanding. A body huddled between clouds. A corner. The voices travel over extremely long distances. The childhood that’s watching me. This sky.



sábado, abril 17, 2010 12:49 am


Agua contra agua: el tono y el timbre. Imposible describir la honda vacía añoranza en la voz de los pájaros. Esta infancia ocurrió en otro lugar. La luz, tan delgada como un hilo a través del ojo de la aguja estelar. Lyme Regis es un pueblo en una costa. El ulular del viento. El sabor a sal sobre los labios, en el cuello, justo en la punta de la nariz. Existe un verde que sólo es posible percibir en sueños. No hay eco sin pared, en efecto. Entonces la niña se volvió a verme: ¿todavía no recuerdas este momento?, preguntó. O dijo. Con el tiempo me hice experta en arroparme con una capa negra. Alguien cantaría en el otro extremo del mundo; alguien más elevaría la mano o la voz o la mirada. Que yo sepa Meryl Streep nunca fue pelirroja. Doblar las esquinas: el cuerpo que se va. Doblar las campanas: el cuerpo que no regresará. ¡Pero qué blanca luce la espuma en la cresta de las olas! Lo olvidaré, tuve que admitirlo. El acento sella la separación más larga. Al ras: dos palabras que sobrevuelan las aguas, el océano. ¿Qué?, volvió a preguntar. Atolondrado es un adjetivo espectacular. Nadie te abandonó, tuve que gritar cada palabra para que me oyera. El eco: la pared: el efecto. Entender es tan posible como malentender. Un cuerpo agazapado entre nube y nube. Una esquina. Las voces viajan distancias muy largas. La infancia que me ve. Este cielo.


Copyright © 2023 by Cristina Rivera Garza, Ilana Luna, and Cheyla Samuelson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 30, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“That summer, I wrote every day and nonstop as I moved between central Mexico and southern California, chasing the color green while believing, with Hildegard von Bingen—the German Benedictine abbess, the visionary and the mystic, the writer, the herbalist—that right there and then lied viriditas, or the vitality and lushness and truthfulness and ferocity of life. Poems were but precarious recording mechanisms that allowed me to move the experience of the body into the experience of language, coming as close as humanly possible to the present, hence the dated title of every entry. The sight of a red-haired girl swinging carelessly on the railing of the seawall took me, however, directly to both my childhood and the opening scene of a movie I had forgotten. The past and the present, intertwined. And now the future. Memory is but a game of children playing with scalpels. Writing is deep time.”
—Cristina Rivera Garza