Poems for staying at home (Day 17)



A second poem from Laura Wittner of Argentina to accompany the one I posted on Day 6 (which was in fact Day 36 of the UK lockdown), just because it felt appropriate, as we spend time watching images on our TV screens of places where we are not.  And snow, an idea which seems remote and even wonderful.


Another City

When I raise my eyes I see snow,
snow gleaming from the television.
As always, places where one is not
shimmer on the map.
Certainly, I’d miss the flower market
and waking in this eighth-floor flat
which opens out in defiance of the wind.
The truth is there was just one day of snow
and there is a second possible version
of things known to us.
Suitcases have been packed for ever
and ready on the sofa
waiting to be off.
That moment lasts, is sustained,
it’s a way of being:
to be at the point of being abandoned.
The black pit of packed bags
the reverse of disembarking.
The human desire for the incomplete
reflected, it is said,
in a preference for small things,
brevity, fragments.

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)


Otra ciudad

Cuando levanto la vista veo nieve,
nieve refulgiendo desde el televisor.
Como siempre, titilan sobre el mapa
los lugares donde una no está.
Seguro extrañaría el mercado de flores
y despertar en este piso octavo
que se abre desafiando al viento.
La verdad es que hubo un solo día de nieve
y que hay una posible segunda versión
para las cosas conocidas.
Las valijas están hechas desde siempre
y además están sobre el sofá
en posición de espera.
Ese momento dura, se sostiene,
es una manera de estar:
estar a punto de ser abandonado.
El pozo negro de las valijas hechas,
reverso del desembarco:
el deseo humano por lo incompleto
que se refleja, dicen,
en la predilección por lo pequeño,
lo breve, el fragmento.


Laura Wittner was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1967. She has published several poetry collections, most recently La Altura (Bajolaluna, 2016).  She is also a translator from English, and has published work by Leonard Cohen, David Markson, Anne Tyler and James Schuyler. She coordinates poetry and translation workshops and runs a poetry blog in Spanish at http://selodicononlofaccio.blogspot.com/ and she can also be found (in English) at https://intranslation.brooklynrail.org/spanish/inside-the-house/.

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