Poems for staying at home (Day 9)

 

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Today’s poem, by the Bolivian Gabriel Chávez Casazola (pictured above), chimes perfectly with the lockdown zeitgeist. I love the gentle understatement, and calm acceptance of what is. The poem’s speaker dreams of travelling to distant places, all the while remaining at home: ‘I resign myself to the knowledge I have not left’. The most he can hope for is to ‘soar above the sheets’.

 

I was born within the confines

I was born within the confines of an elusive empire
bordered by imaginary and evasive lines.

Since childhood I wanted to know the heart of the region,
to visit the north, which was also the centre.

After many years of dreaming about roads
I resign myself to the knowledge that I have not left.

This morning a man across from me is conversing with the birds.
He tells them how to arrive at the jade palace.

I listen to this, thinking of the north,
of the centre,
of my old desire.

But now I am tired and the days weigh on me.

I have to be content with learning that language of birds
and, alone now, in my room, to soar above the sheets.

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)

 

 

He nacido en los confines

He nacido en los confines de un imperio inasible
rodeado por líneas imaginarias y huidizas.

Desde niño quise conocer el corazón de la comarca,
acudir a su norte que era también su centro.

Después de muchos años de soñar con caminos
me resigno a saber que no he partido.

Esta mañana un hombre enfrente mío conversa con los pájaros.
Les instruye la forma de llegar al palacio de jade.

Yo lo escucho pensando en el norte,
en el centro,
en mi viejo deseo.

Pero ya estoy cansado y los días me pesan.

He de conformarme con aprender ese idioma de aves
y, ya solo, en mi cuarto, planear sobre las sábanas.

 

 

Gabriel Chávez Casazola is a Bolivian poet and journalist. Born in 1972, his publications include Lugar Común, Escalera de Mano, El agua iluminada and La mañana se llenará de jardineros. His work has been translated into Portuguese, Italian, English and Romanian. He has contributed to several international poetry magazines. Two translations of his poems are included in The Other Tiger. For readers of Spanish, more can be found here: https://www.luzcultural.com/gabriel-chavez-casazola/

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