Poems for staying at home (Day 22)



What is insignificance? The routines of the quotidinal? Can one, nevertheless, become an artist of the quotidinal? And if making tea, is it not a point of some importance to use the correct tea, in its allocated box, as the dust motes dance in the May sunlight? Today’s lockdown poem is by D.G. Helder, of Argentina.



One moment.
And slowly, shhh . . .
Don’t wake the cat.
Don’t frighten the sparrows
in the orange tree.
The water’s boiling, I close my book,
May has returned to the window.
Does anyone want a cup of tea?
Would any of you like
a cup of tea?
On the second shelf,
to the left, there are two tins,
one red and one white.
That ray of sunlight
that shines through the glass
and the curtains
has travelled 150 million kms
to alight on the wooden floor.
Inside the sunbeam, in the non-gravity,
crazed grey dust specks
Not the white one, the red.

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)



Un momento.
Y despacio, shhh…
Que el gato no despierte.
Que los gorriones en el naranjo
no se espanten.
Hierve el agua, cierro el libro,
mayo ha vuelto a la ventana.
¿Alguien quiere una taza de té?
¿Alguno de ustedes desea
una taza de té?
En el segundo estante,
a la izquierda, hay dos latas,
una roja y otra blanca.
150 millones de kms
ha recorrido este rayo de sol
que trasluce el vidrio
y las cortinas
y se fija en la madera del piso.
Dentro del rayo, en la no-gravedad,
el polvillo gris enloquecido
La blanca no, la roja.

From El faro de Guereño, 1990


Daniel García (D.G.) Helder was born in Rosario, Argentina, in 1961. He is a poet and critic, and one of the most authoritative commentators on contemporary and twentieth century Argentine literature. He has been co-editor of the website Poesía.com (1996-2006), director of the Casa de Poesía in Buenos Aires (2001-2008) and was the curator of the XVII Festival Internacional de Poesía de Rosario (2009). In addition to his own publications, his poetry has been included in numerous national and international anthologies.

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