titulo

Palabras Errantes Latin American Literature in Translation

Palabras Errantes
Something Naked

By Martín Cerisola, translated by Keith Ekiss. Photography by Diego Vidart.

from Something Naked

 

“All the beautiful phrases spoken about transcending nature prove ineffectual in the face of the primordial forces of life.”

—Frank Kafka, Diaries

 

I

A cemetery of elephants.

A vast territory of immense, white bones.

 

Suddenly, in a corner, the gentle movements

of a baby elephant. The innocent trembling of its

trunk, its swinging feet; a look, cheerful

among the bones.

 

Fragile bud among the rigid forms.

 

New-born word.

 

 

II

His eyes were wild.

The movements of his body seemed broken, without

continuity, panting. Also, the grimaces of his

face, like tics in the eyes and mouth, fingers

stiff as dissected insects.

With one hand he squeezed his bulge and shook it

inside his pants.

He looked at us each in turn, giving us

a stare, soaked with greed and alcohol.

 

None of us wanted to be that man.

 

 

III

Enter into life. Like spending a force

that won’t stop struggling.

Without any film. Completely naked.

To gain access.

Without evading the space all around. Without scenarios in

mind. (Always the same voices saying the

same things).

 

Step aside.

Purify.

Exit.

 

Continue without a self.

 

 

IV

Long ago (or as children) the body crossed

the day with the force put there. Graceful.

Consciousness and the energy that consumed

the consciousness that followed.

At first it was the body. The fight, the delivery,

throughout the day and throughout the night.

 

We lost the adventure, became civilized.

We cannot stray more than over geometric

roads others have laid out. We long

for rituals like exorcisms; we are that scream

in the painting that puts fear on our faces

resigned to what is coming.

 

Life calls us to undo. But we inhabit the fear.

 

Resign ourselves to this and that. We spawn, incom-

plete buds. We see in others, life, and we applaud.

 

And we clench our teeth.

Every night.

 

Each suicide is as if we are not born.

 

V

Something was speaking in that minimal light.

It was silent and trembling on the wall as an

animal with cold.

Something opened that minute, and it stopped me

its imperceptible movement.

 

Its seed.

 

 

de Algo se desnuda

 

“Todas las bellas palabras que hablan de trascender la naturaleza se demuestran ineficaces frente a los poderes primordiales de la vida.”

—Franz Kafka. Diarios.

 

I

Un cementerio de elefantes.

Un vasto territorio de huesos blancos, inmensos.

 

De pronto, en un rincón, los movimientos mansos

de un elefante niño. El temblor inocente de su

trompa, sus patas oscilantes; la mirada, alegre

entre los huesos.

 

Frágil brote entre la rigidez de las formas.

 

Palabra naciente.

 

 

II

Tenía los ojos desencajados.

Los movimientos del cuerpo parecían rotos, sin

continuidad, jadeantes. También los gestos de la

cara, como tics en la mirada y en la boca; los dedos

tiesos como insectos disecados.

Con una mano se apretaba el bulto y lo sacudía

por adentro del pantalón.

Nos miraba a todos, daba vueltas y nos recorría

con la mirada, húmeda de avidez y alcohol.

 

Todos queríamos no ser ese hombre.

 

 

III

Ir entrando en la vida. Como gastando una fuerza

que no acaba de pujar.

Sin ninguna película. Todo desnudez.

Acceder.

Sin evadir el espacio, alrededor. Sin escenarios de la

mente. (Son siempre las mismas voces diciendo las

mismas cosas).

 

Apartarse.

Afinar.

Salir.

 

Seguir sin uno mismo.

 

 

IV

Antiguamente (o de niños) el cuerpo atravesaba

el día con la fuerza puesta allí. Desenvuelta.

La conciencia, y la energía que consume la conciencia,

vino después.

Al principio era el cuerpo. La lucha, la entrega, a

lo largo del día y a lo largo de la noche.

 

Hemos perdido la aventura civilizándonos.

No podemos errar más que sobre caminos

geométricos que otros dispusieron. Anhelamos

rituales como exorcismos; somos ese grito en la

pintura que harán de nuestras caras de espanto

resignado los venideros.

 

La vida llama a deshacer. Pero habitamos el miedo.

 

Resignamos esto y aquello. Incubamos brotes truncos.

Vemos, en otros, la vida, y la aplaudimos.

 

Y apretamos los dientes.

Cada noche.

 

Cada suicidio de lo que no nacemos.

 

 

V

Algo estaba diciendo aquella mínima luz.

Era silencio y temblaba en la pared como un

animal con frío.

Algo abría ese minuto, y me detuvo

su imperceptible movimiento.

 

Su semilla.

 

Martín Cerisola was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1979. He is a poet, performer, essayist and teacher and the author of the poetry collection *Perseguir*. Five of his poems will appear in *América invertida: An Anthology of Younger Uruguayan poets* which is forthcoming from the University of New Mexico Press.

Keith Ekiss is the author of the poetry collection *Pima Road Notebook* and translator of *The Fire’s Journey* by the Costa Rican poet Eunice Odio. He is a Jones Lecturer in Creative Writing at Stanford University.

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