Archive | 17:39

Two poems by Wendy Guerra

12 Oct

David Hockney, Picture of a Hollywood Swimming Pool, 1964

Wendy Guerra (b. 1970, Cienfuegos, Cuba) is part of a younger generation of Cuban writers and artists who express themselves in a mix of genres and across media. She came to fame with the publication of a non-fiction novel based on her diaries, Todo se van (Everyone’s leaving) in 2006. The poems below are both from her poetry collection Ropa Interior (2008), many of them centring on what she describes as the ‘circular coherence’ of life in contemporary Cuba, and reflecting the influence on her writing of the visual arts. In this highly entertaining video, she explains a little about her work and ideas.

 

REVERSE JOURNEY

 

I pack and unpack my bag

I pack and unpack everything with the intention of leaving

I call my friends     tell them I’m escaping

and later descend surreptitiously to the pool

to absorb the sorcery of the sun in peace

A wedding ring lost in the stomach of a fish

And again the luggage for my long overdue journey

I keep seeing that unmoving piece of marble

that are the boots of my personal memorial

Look how my tears course down the suitcase

you track them with your index finger

and you will arrive at the centre of my doubts

I fish in the same sea into which flows the water from my eyes

I see how my half-packed suitcase reveals

my tormented compass

and the child’s drawing of a map of Cuba

I trace the thousand forms of an exploratory circumnavigation

Dip a foot in     to test the exact temperature of the waters

withdraw a little    and then leave

for the interminable and conclusive regatta

Someone pushes me for a laugh and I almost fall and drown

but I sustain an amazing state of equilibrium

make the journey to the interior

realizing that what I announce

illuminates the borderline of my ideas

 

 

A FACE IN THE CROWD  (GRAFFITI)

 

My parents got it right one time

They met in a packed square singing in a choir

They loved each other in a sea of ten bunks silenced by

the command to “be silent”

They brought me into the world in a room of beds tidied

into shared emotions

We swam at beaches packed with bathers confused

by their identical swimsuits and communal trucks

Saturday nights we watched the same films

crying in the same way as a subtitled country cries

in black and white

Sundays we said our goodbyes

hazy in the uniform     blue that separated us

My parents   when at last they were left alone

Lost their minds.

 

 

Translations by Richard Gwyn, first published in Poetry Wales Vol 47, No 1, Summer 2011

 

 

 

 

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