Imagine that you are in a dark nightclub and a Tiger is seated at the bar, observing you curiously. Something like this happened to Pedro Serrano in Cardiff a few years back. I know; I was there, and so was Bill. This poem was published in The Other Tiger – and is the only poem, as far as I know, to make its first ever appearance in that tome. The night spot has since closed down. The image above is from a painting by the Catalan artist Lluís Peñaranda.
The tiger leaps
from a cloud of smoke into transience.
Falls on the devastating corral with an idleness
corresponding to the haste of his victims,
not to his elasticity.
He brushes past the bars of his cage
swinging his tail, rattling, tac, tac, tac, tac.
Crackling, he licks the circus sands
and raises ripples of dust,
traces of an approaching wake.
The motive for his observation
journeys in the smooth rhythm of his stomach,
velvety, gluttonous, elastic.
He turns circles before the spectators,
ears cocked, instincts fixed
on the excitement in the air.
He walks by the tables, propitious,
exudes substance and style.
The head sinks between the shoulders,
swells in the rail that encircles him.
The claws are extended
in the animal body that awaits him.
In the mirror of midday
the night’s end was taking shape,
(Translated by Richard Gwyn)
El tigre salta
de la humareda a la fugacidad
y cae en el corral aplastante con una pereza
que alude a la prisa de sus victimas,
no a su elasticidad.
Pasa rozando las rejas de su jaula
una vuelta y otra.
Restallante lame las arenas del circo
y levanta espejuelas de polvo,
huellas de una estela aproximándose.
Meneando la cola, golpeteando.
La razón de su observación
viaja en el suave ritmo de su vientre.
Da vueltas a los espectadores,
las orejas prestas, su olfato
en la agitación que se respira.
Pasa propicio por sus mesas,
Afelpado y glotón,
sume la cabeza entre los hombros.
Crece en el riel que lo circunda
y cae con las uñas puestas
en el cuerpo animal que lo acecha.
Queda un muñeco de goma
desde el espejo del mediodía
se apunta la noche.
Pedro Serrano, born in Montreal in 1957, is a poet and professor at UNAM in México DF. He was until recently Director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre in Canada. His translations include the anthology La generación del cordero (containing many of the most prominent British poets of the 1980s), Shakespeare’s King John and the poetry of Edward Hirsch. He recently published DefenßaS, a book on poetry and other wanderings. La construcción del poeta moderno, based on this doctoral thesis, is an extended essay on T.S. Eliot and Octavio Paz, and was published 1n 2012. He was for many years the editor of the online poetry monthly Periódico de Poesía. A book of his selected poems, Peatlands, translated by Anna Crowe, was published by Arc in 2014.