titulo

Palabras Errantes Latin American Literature in Translation

Palabras Errantes
Sonetos a dos

from Sonetos a dos by Horacio Cavallo and Francisco Tomsich, translated by Geoffrey Brock. Photography by Diego Vidart.

 

Hermes

I.

 

Crickets are errors in the silence, or so

thinks sleepless Hermes, in his boxer shorts.

Chin on his fist, packet of cigarettes

beneath the portrait of Florencio.

 

The moon, the window: up and down his street

populations of neighbors and of crickets.

The night is hung from clothespins like a blanket

and Hermes dreams of a long silent retreat.

 

He flops back on the bed, lets one hand stray

across the mattress toward the empty half,

hoping for company (pleasure held at bay)

 

that never comes. He spends his night like this:

hearing the chirps, smoking, and putting off

the mythic founding of his moodiness.

 

Hermes

I.

 

Los grillos son errores del silencio

se dice Hermes insomne, en calzoncillos.

El puño en el mentón, los cigarrillos

debajo del cuadrito de Florencio.

 

La luna, la ventana: calle Ascencio,

poblada de vecinos y de grillos;

la noche está colgada con palillos

y él sueña con gestores del silencio.

 

Se tira así vestido, tienta el lado

vacío de la cama de dos plazas,

y espera, conteniendo la garufa

 

visitas impensables. Trasnochado,

oyendo el cricriquear, fuma y aplaza

la Fundación Tercera de la mufa.

 

Hermes

V.

 

The cricket’s saying terrifying things

to the boy regarding it with a kind stare,

who quickly but not without a certain care

places it in a little jar with rings

 

of air-holes in the lid. Hermes looks on,

thinking about Toquinho’s “Testament,”

the tune the insect strums in the event

its jar is shaken. Later he puts his own

 

repository in their little pasture,

meaning to gather cricket after cricket

into a tiny funerary pyre.

 

The boy, appalled, can’t bear to look at it;

he hurtles from the scene like an aria

as Hermes nervously rolls a cigarette.

 

Hermes

V.

 

El grillo dice cosas pavorosas

al niño que lo mira con cariño

y sin vacilación ni desaliño,

lo mete en un frasquito de curiosas

 

ranuras. Hermes mira, piensa cosas

sobre ese Testamento de Toquinho

que improvisa el insecto cuando el niño

agita y bate el frasco; luego posa

 

su propio recipiente en el pastito;

propone unir allí grillo con grillo

en una mini pira funeraria.

 

El niño horrorizado mira ahíto

y sale disparado como un aria

cuando Hermes arma ansioso un cigarrillo.

 

Icarus

III.

 

Poor Daedalus advised his only son:

follow me, child, but keep to the middle sky,

for the sun ruins things that go too high.

Your path, my dear, must be a level one…

 

But Icarus, tired of warnings, hasn’t heard.

He launches into the air to test his wings,

and from on high, where heat does ruin things,

an object can be seen to fall, a blurred

 

bundle of cords and feathers. A boatman,

smoking a cigarette on deck, looks up

as absentmindedly he fills his cup

 

and says to his invisible companion:

I made a wish, old pal, seeing as I

just saw a shooting star fall from the sky.

 

Ícaro

III.

 

Dédalo, desgraciado, dijo al hijo:

seguí por donde voy, no tan arriba,

que allá el calor del sol todo derriba,

mantén querido mío un punto fijo.

 

Pero Ícaro no escucha ese prolijo

concepto y se lanza a la deriva.

De allá donde el calor todo derriba

se ha visto caer algo, un amasijo

 

de plumas y tendones. Un barquero

que fuma un cigarrillo en plena popa

mirando sin mirar llena una copa

 

y dice al invisible compañero:

pedí un deseo, hermano, que estoy viendo

una estrella fugaz que va cayendo.

 

Icarus

V.

 

As soon as he hits the water’s icy surface

he looks around, expecting a life-boat.

But water’s all he sees. Time’s running out:

the sun is going down. Poor Icarus

 

then understands and smiles, but wearily.

With a beneficent revenge in mind,

he launches himself at once across the sea,

and when the day star sinks into the stunned

 

horizon, he fills again with a sudden joy—

in the sea’s mirror he finds what he’s been seeking:

the blood-drenched sun, and at its heart a boy.

 

Now he feels sad again, and he can’t think.

The boat has not yet come for him, and something

is tugging him down. Now he starts to sink.

 

Ícaro

V.

 

Apenas en el agua resfriado,

Ícaro espera balsa salvadora.

Ya solo el agua pasa; se hace hora:

el sol se viene abajo. El desgraciado

 

comprende y se sonríe adormilado.

Pensando una venganza bienhechora

se lanza mar arriba sin demora

y cuando el astro se hunde en el helado

 

horizonte se renueva de alegría;

en el reflejo está lo que quería:

el sol ensangrentado, y él su centro.

 

Entonces entristece, se confunde.

La balsa no aparece, y algo dentro

del mar lo tironea. Ya se hunde.

 

Games

V.

 

The house feels empty. Faucets can be heard

doing poor impressions of a second-hand.

One windowpane is broken, and the wind

hangs plaintive whistles on a standing shard.

 

Two men regard each other. One feels hope.

The other’s brooding over an old saddle:

lost in thought, his thumb and finger fiddle

with leather straps. He’s mulling his escape,

 

how he might disappear without a trace

then reappear again in some far-off place

with death clinging quietly to his chest.

 

But none will see him on the roadway, since

the pull of evening is stronger, of indolence

and willow shadows, and of the need to rest.

 

Juegos

V.

 

La casa está vacía. La gotera

imita un impreciso segundero.

El viento cuelga un silbo lastimero

del rastro del cristal en la madera.

 

Los dos hombres se miran. Uno espera.

El otro le da vueltas al apero;

ensimismado juega con el cuero

rumiando la evasión, una manera

 

de desaparecer sin dejar rastro

y aparecerse así a campo traviesa

con una silenciosa muerte a cuestas.

 

Pero no lo verán sobre el balastro:

más fuertes son la tarde y la pereza,

las sombras de los sauces y las siestas.

 

Horacio Cavallo was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1977. He is writer and poet, among his books are the poetry collections *Descendencia* and *Sonetos a dos*, co-authored with Francisco Tomsich. Five of his poems are included in *América invertida: an anthology of younger Uruguayan poets* which is forthcoming from the University of New Mexico Press.

Francisco Tomsich was born in Rosario, Uruguay in 1981. He is a visual artist, musician and writer and is the co-author, along with Horacio Cavallo, of the poetry collection *Sonetos a dos*. Five of his poems are included in *América invertida: an anthology of younger Uruguayan poets* which is forthcoming from the University of New Mexico Press.

Geoffrey Brock is author of *Voices Bright Flags*, editor of *The FSG Book of 20th-Century Italian Poetry*, and translator of Cesare Pavese’s *Disaffections: Complete Poems 1930-1950*. He teaches in the MFA program in Creative Writing and Translation at the University of Arkansas.

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