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Poetry From the September 2011 issue: Homage


For Álvaro Pombo

a Álvaro Pombo

We are accomplices
and accomplices have no
reason to embrace or kiss
or mourn their own dead
or ours.  We live
in endless complicity
with shameful times
that have become scars and ashes
in our memory.  Dark days
that today are luminous mist
in Neuchâtel
or in brothels on Las Ramblas
whose ceremonies
we don’t attend but which we’re familiar with
because we’ve lived in brothels
and in dungeons
and in the incense
of basilicas.
Accomplices don’t even
need to love themselves.
They love, they walk
blindly, they don’t want to return to school
or home
or world literature.
It’s enough just to be accomplices
without knowing
or despite knowing.
And now I say or whisper:
Álvaro, do you understand the words
I will never utter?  Do you understand
the tears we cried
and will never cry again?
I, drowned,
in the bathroom
when you open the door
and I am there instead of the mirror
where you expected to find yourself.

Nosotros somos cómplices
y los cómplices no tienen
por qué abrazarse o besarse
o llorar sus muertes
y las nuestras. Vivimos
incesantemente la complicidad
de tiempos que fueron indignos
y que hoy son ceniza y cicatrices
en la memoria. Días oscuros
que hoy son luminosa neblina
en Neuchâtel
o en los prostíbulos de las Ramblas
a cuyas ceremonias
no asistíamos y que conocemos
porque vivíamos en los prostíbulos
y en las mazmorras
y en el incienso
de las basílicas.
Los cómplices no necesitan
ni siquiera quererse.
Se quieren, caminan
a ciegas, no quieren regresar al colegio
o a su casa
o a la literatura universal.
Les basta con ser cómplices
sin saberlo
o a su pesar.
Y ahora te digo o te susurro:
Álvaro, ¿entiendes las palabras
que nunca diré? ¿Entiendes
las lágrimas que llorábamos
y que nunca volveremos a llorar?
Yo ahorcado
en el cuarto de baño
cuando abres la puerta
y allí estoy en lugar del espejo
donde te buscabas.

© Antonio Masoliver. All rights reserved.




Juan Antonio Masoliver RódenasJuan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas

Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas (Barcelona, Spain, 1939) was professor of Spanish and Latin American literature at the University of Westminster in London and currently teaches in the Masters of Creative Writing program at the University Pompeu Fabra. He lives in El Masnou (Barcelona). He is a literary critic for the Cultura/s supplement of La Vanguardia in Barcelona. In Mexico he is or has been contributor to Vuelta, La Jornada Semanal, Letras Libres, Fractal and Crítica, among others. A wide range of his articles and essays on Spanish and Mexican literature were collected in Voces contemporáneas (Contemporary Voices, 2004) and Las libertades enlazadas (Interlaced Freedoms, 2000), respectively. As an author he has published the story collections La sombra del triángulo (The Shadow of the Triangle, 1996), La noche de la conspiración de la pólvora (The Night of the Gunpowder Plot, 2006) and most recently La calle Fontanills (Fontanills Street, 2010), as well as the novels Retiro lo escrito (I Withdraw the Printed Word, 1988), Beatriz Miami (Beatriz Miami, 1991) and La puerta del inglés (The Englishman’s Door, 2001). He has translated Cesare Pavese, Giorgio Saviane, Carson McCullers, Djuna  Barnes, and Vladimir Nabokov, among others.  His poetic works are collected in Poesía reunida (Collected Poems, 1999). Subsequently he published La memoria sin tregua (Relentless Memory, 2002), Sònia (Sonia, 2008) and a book of poems in Catalan, El laberint del cos (The Laberinth of the Body, 2008).

Translated from SpanishSpanish by Samantha SchneeSamantha Schnee

Samantha Schnee is a founding editor of Words without Borders. She is the former senior editor of Zoetrope: All-Story, a literary journal founded by Francis Ford Coppola that won the 2001 National Magazine Award for fiction. She translates from the Spanish.