Mary Crow

Poets as Translators - Mary Crow

 

Poem:


(1) Flaubert's Egypt
(2) Finding Wild Bees on My Sister's Farm Near Baltimore, Ohio
(3) Cultivation
 

Translation from the Spanish:

 

(1) Vertical Poetry: Eleventh I 3
(2) Games
(3) Omen

 

 

Mary Crow

Flaubert's Egypt


Flaubert wore himself out
trying to imitate the cry
of the camel, rattle interrupted
by a gargle; he wanted to take it back
with him. Kuchuk's bedbugs fascinated him
too, their smell mingled with the scent
of her skin. I want, he told her, a touch
of bitterness in things. Temples,
the sand dunes, the very Nile itself--
they all made him lazy and he wrote home:
"I think of nothing at all, not even
the elevated thoughts one should have
here in the presence of ruins!"
He sent his letter, then went off
to visit Kuchuk of the long legs again,
wondering if she had felt any pleasure
since "undoubtedly" her little button
had been circumcised when she was little.

I who have been to Egypt confess
I saw another country. In Cairo
I was followed by a man and had to run.
In a bus a tall man rubbed against me
in a crowd so tight I couldn't leave,
and I twisted away from his crotch.
At night I couldn't leave my cheap hotel.
I sat there at the desk thinking how
I'd like to meet Kuchuk, I'd like to stand
listening to camels, I'd like to be safely lazy
lying on the banks of the Nile while
I squeezed bedbugs between my fingernails,
reflecting on the touch of bitterness in things.

 



Mary Crow

Finding Wild Bees on My Sister's Farm Near Baltimore, Ohio


The swarm of bees droops from the appletree
in a ripe pear shape, deep brown,
an angry buzzing under the damp bough.
But, the beeman says, their bellies
are so full of honey, you can pick them up
and take them home to your hive.
Hold the box for me, please,
while I drop them in, dazed with smoke.

How must it be to gather that buzzing
into its own box, closing the lid
on the deep pear of the swarm, queen
in the center and the drones
clinging in their multitude
to her homing instinct, to her sex?

And the blossom-pink branch bends
from that angry weight, while the damp air
lies heavy with dew and heat, spring
coming on like a bitter wreck,
my body puffy with humidity,
with jet lag, dark with its own sting,
its own brown honey, its own multitude of wings.

 



Mary Crow

Cultivation


He tilled the stars in the dull heaven
of the soil, stars of white pearl
with green at the tip. It made him dizzy
to glance up at that other garden.

As he walked beside the rows
searching for what had appeared overnight
he wanted to prophesy. There, right there,
a new nodule, a new comet's tail, a root

of heaven. The sky itself so heavy
he felt it about to fall on his shoulders,
felt how it lowered over his life.
He needed a plow long enough, sharp enough

to cut it to tatters so he could seed
the low slivers of cloud, long rows
of watery blue. He could bring
these heavens together, raising one,

pulling the other down.

 



Roberto Juarroz

Vertical Poetry:
Eleventh I 3


A writing that withstands bad weather,
that can be read beneath sun or rain,
beneath howling or night,
beneath the nakedness of time.

A writing that withstands the infinite,
cracks that spread like pollen,
the reading without the pity of the gods,
the unlettered reading of the desert.

A writing that resists
bad weather always.
A writing that can be read
even in death.

(Translated from the Spanish by Mary Crow)

 



Jorge Teillier

Games


The children play in tiny chairs.
The grown-ups have nothing to play with.
The grown-ups tell the children
one ought to speak in a whisper.
The grown-ups are standing up
beside the falling light of the afternoon.

The children receive from night
stories that come
like a pack of spotted calves
while the grown-ups repeat
one ought to speak in a whisper.

The children are hiding
below the winding staircase
telling their untellable stories
that are like ears of corn sunning on the rooftops
while only silence arrives for the grown-ups
empty as a wall uncrossed by shadows.

(Translated from the Spanish by Mary Crow)

 



Olga Orozco

Omen

It was written in shadows. 
It was outlined with smoke in the middle of two colored wings, 
almost an incrustation of strict mourning that cut the celebration's     glow in two. 
The frosty complaint of the glass under your feet announced it often. 
Always whirling in the dark, dark personages said it 
because there is no exit ever for anyone in this dizzying den of     dreams. 
The grass that was harsh gloomy plumage one morning propagated     it. 
Sudden cracks in the walls confirmed it day after day, 
traces of carbon on stone, transparent spiders, winds. 
And suddenly night spilled over, 
it overflowed dangerously the closed showcases, the adjusted knots, 
the hands that could hardly hold the stormy pressure. 
A huge black bird fell onto your plate. 
It is like the wrapping of some fire -- murky, taciturn, breathless 
that came from far away piercing as it passed through the intact     protection of each day. 
Now you notice this shivering harvest smoking. 
It arrives from the most remote plantations of your foreboding and     your fear, 
it arrives exhaling mystery continually. 
It is on your plate and there is no distance that separates you, 
no hiding place possible.

(Translated from the Spanish by Mary Crow)

 


 

 

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