You are currently viewing what ancestral mercy
Désiré Charnay, Ruinas de Kalmanalco, 1858.

Language: Spanish
Poet: Pura López-Colomé
Translator: Jason Stumpf
Region: Mexico

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what ancestral mercy

A poem by Pura López-Colomé, translated from Spanish by Jason Stumpf 

Pura López-Colomé was born in Mexico City in 1952. She is the author of several books including Aurora and Musica Inaudita. No Shelter (2002), a collection of her poems translated by Forrest Gander, was published by Graywolf. A literary critic and translator, she has rendered into Spanish major works by H.D., Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, Samuel Beckett, and Robert Hass. She lives in Cuernavaca, Mexico. 

Jason Stumpf’s poems and reviews have recently appeared in Boston Review and Pleiades. He is Co-Director of Underwood Poetry, a non-profit literary organization in St. Louis.

Presagios

En homenaje a Elizabeth Bishop

     1

Las nubes se deslizan a tal velocidad
que impiden ir en pos del día,
seguir sus huellas,
hablarle por su nombre.
¿Cómo te llamas?, pregunté.
No hubo respuesta.
Sí, en cambio, un alboroto inmenso.
Aproveché una pieza del mosaico,
sus grises, blancos, metálicos matices,
un momento de mi vida.
Y salí a su encuentro.
Era tan bello.
La poca bruma, desprovista,
se iba dispersando poco a poco
al ritmo de un radiante corazón
que no podía ser el mío.
Fugaces ya, las fuerzas intentaron huir también,
pero el coro unánime del clima las retuvo
a punto de olvidarse
y nunca más hallar cabida en la ilusión,
a las puertas
de la tierra
de la abundancia.
Qué solar misericordia.

     2

Sublime,
se desborda este caudal
al compartirse.

Como quien lleva una canasta
con lo mejor de la estación,
deseos renuentes,
agua profunda, antigua,
nacida tras la piedra
del cuerpo que respira.

Como quien toca el borde,
el horizonte de ese día,
con una gran necesidad
de recostarse donde sea,
y reconoce refulgente la canasta
de frutos propios, exquisitos.
Se sabe entonces convidado
a aquellas fiestas.
Se acerca al anfitrión.
Huele su túnica y sandalias,
su deslumbrante majestad.
Oye el latido de su sangre,
se mira dentro suyo
y da con todos los sentidos
en las cámaras secretas
de aquel vivo santuario.

Como quien dejara huella
y la borrara luego
con los ojos.

Como quien supiera adónde va,
y al dejar de ser
no fuera ya.

Omens

In homage to Elizabeth Bishop

     1

The clouds glide so slowly
they cannot go in pursuit of the day,
to follow its trail,
to call it by name.
What’s your name? I asked.
There was no answer.
Yes, but a great disturbance.
I made use of a piece of the mosaic
its grays, whites, metallic shades,
a moment from my life.
And I left for the encounter.
He was so beautiful.
The little mist, lacking,
was dispersed little by little
to the beat of a radiant heart
that could not be mine.
Fleeting already, the forces tried also to flee,
but the unanimous chorus of the climate retained them
on the verge of forgetting themselves
and never finding space in the illusion,
to the doors
of the earth,
of its abundance.
What ancestral mercy.

     2

Sublime,
overwhelmed with abundance
to partake.

Like one who carries a basket
containing the height of the season,
reluctant desires,
deep water, old,
born after the rock
of the body that breathes.

Like one who touches the edge,
the horizon of day,
with one great need
to sit in place
and look upon the basket
gleaming with radiant fruit.
Who is known, then, as a guest
at those parties.
Who approaches the host.
Who smells his tunic and sandals,
his overwhelming majesty.
Who hears the beat of blood,
looks upon the soul
and discovers the senses
in the secret chambers
of that living sanctuary.

Like one who left a trail
and then erased it
with the eyes.

Like one who knew the path
and ceasing to be
was no longer.

This poem appeared in Issue 1 of Circumference. Volume 1, Issue 1 • Autumn/Winter 2003 © 2003 CIRCUMFERENCE, Inc.