Stammering translated sonnet in which the poet sends the rains of Havana to her love in New York

Got your message, here
in the letter you didn’t write:
burned, with a forbidden seal,
marking the burial site
of what has neither voice nor definition,
what has no face, no peace, no place to sleep,
a whisper in which I can’t [inaudible]
—what the sea doesn’t say, whispering, every night,
and when the rain comes to erase the streets
tomorrow, & all the dusks that follow that,
and runs around making up street dances
from what you once said, I’ll have this map,
without details, made of what I’ve missed,
telling me that that which isn’t is.


Soneto Balbuciendo En Que La Poeta Manda A Su Amor En Nueva York La Lluvia de La Habana

He leído el mensaje que mandaste,
aquí, en la carta no me has escrito:
quemada, y con sello prohibido,
diciéndome dónde enterraste
lo que no tiene voz ni luz ni cara,
ni paz, ni un lugar para dormir,
susurro donde yo puedo oír
cada noche lo que no dice el mar,
y cuando la lluvia borrará las calles
mañana, y los crepúsculos después,
y correrá haciendo bailes
de lo que me dijiste una vez,
yo tendré este mapa, sin detalles,
que me dice que lo que no es, es.


Copyright © 2015 by Suzanne Gardinier. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 15, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote the Spanish original during my first visit to Havana in June 2012, after Lorca’s “Soneto Gongorino en que el poeta manda a su amor una paloma,” “Sonnet After Góngoro in which the Poet Sends His Sweetheart a Dove.” As I made the translation, I noticed the beautiful rich tripleness of the rhythms of Spanish, and the beautiful percussive eighth-note brevities of my beloved Usahn (the Englishes of the USA). I’m still hoping to wake up one morning able to hear and speak all the languages, although stammering offers awakenings of its own.”
Suzanne Gardinier