Friday, January 17, 2014

Juan Gelman / Women

Photo by Jenny Boot
by Juan Gelman
Translated from Spanish by J.S. Tennant

to say that this woman was two women is saying nothing

she must have had some 12,397 women in her woman/

it was difficult to know who I was dealing with

in this nation of women/ for example:

we were lying in a bed of love/

she was a dawn of phosphorescent algae/

when I went to embrace her

she turned into singapore full of howling dogs/ I remember

when she appeared wrapped in agadir roses/

she seemed like a constellation come to earth/

seemed like if the southern cross had come to earth/

this woman shone like the moon with her clear voice/

like the sun had set in her voice/

on the roses were written all this woman’s names except one/

and when she turned around/ the nape of her neck was an economic plan/

showing thousands of figures and the balance of the dead in favour of the military dictatorship/

no one ever knew how far this woman was going to go/

i was a little disconcerted/ one night

i tapped her on the shoulder to see who i was with

and i saw a camel in her vacant eyes/ sometimes

this woman was my town’s municipal band/

she played lovely waltzes until the trombone started to get out of tune/

and the rest got out of tune with it/

this woman’s memory was out of tune/

you could love her to the point of delirium/

make her grow through days of trembling sex/

make her flap like a fledgling made of sheets/

the next day she’d wake up talking about malevich/

memory encircled her like an angry clock/

at three in the afternoon she remembered the mule

that on one night of her life kicked her infancy/

this woman was many things and she was a municipal band/

she was devoured by all the ghosts whom she could

feed with her thousands of women/

and she was an out of tune municipal band

disappearing through the shadows of the little plaza in my town/

i/ my friends/ on a night such as this when

our faces were drenched and when perhaps we were dying/

climbed up on the little camel that was waiting in her eyes/

and i departed the lukewarm shores of this woman/

silenced like a child beneath the greedy vultures

that eat everything i give them/ except the memory

of when she came together like a bouquet

of gentleness which she threw one afternoon/


The poems of Julio Grecco

 in “Southwards

J.S. Tennant is a writer and translator who works for a publishing house in London. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and Salamanca.

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