Aufgabe: Salvadoran Poetry Feature
by Krisma Mancía
trans. Jocelyn Saidenberg
I open my eyes
and I am obliged to be a human being
to turn on the noise of the streets
of the people
of their steps
I smoke the butt of a dream
and I look at the figures on the roof
and I turn them into something logical
(a sea dragon
a serpent devouring emeralds
or a hidden treasure at the end of my hands)
Then I escape
and take refuge in the bitterness
in the cups of the café
I open my eyes
and my body is a lament under the sheets
a piece of marble on the pillow
a pain moldy with time
a profile suspended in the portraits
by Ontoniel Guevara
trans. Christian Nagler
Here in this silence that gives cathedrals no solace
resplendent machetes that bore no bitterness transit still
How many of our priests warned of shadow?
How many of our brothers could not figure out light?
We carry on in darkness. Without light. Without shadows.
Wondering whether we’re human, in the best case,
giving up with a simple offering of breath, in the worst.
I feel that the dogs, yes, they suspected it, who in the depth
of their barks
unleashed the horrific homily of fear.
Not of death, that brief bureaucracy,
But of the caravan of instruments, each with its light
with its reckless nostalgia
with its gentle and incomprehensible vibration.
The dogs, yes, they knew, this is why they barked.
And for that their nervous throat was sliced, their voice sealed;
and the others made metal of their instincts
and forgot the tears that already in their animal eyes
this cursed time.
by Rafael Menjivar Ochoa
trans. Emily Abendroth
What am I doing—catless—here,
level-headed and certain,
without cause to judge?
What am I doing without my own face,
without either feet or staggering? Who is it that seeks me out
and doesn’t discover my telephone on its tiny coffee table?
I am but scarcely
the description of someone that knows me,
an identity card that has cast off first one foot
and then the other
and who will sleep until it is far too early.
(My flesh does not know of flesh. The saliva
coagulates and, oh, once again it is mid-afternoon
and the rain has not arrived.)
What time will I be born, that I don’t remember the light?
What time will I be dead, that my hands don’t hurt?
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