Fall 2007 Vol 5.2
from Ficticia
María Baranda
             -- translated by Joshua Edwards

       for Juan Carvajal

It is a fragment of truth that points to the hills,
a cracking of lime and pride
in the empire of iguana and viper.
It is rain that falls in a time of other wars,
battles won by thought,
hieroglyphs from different languages.
And on the freshly wet terrace,
Juan invokes Seferis like a route
over our dejection.
Temples of a sea concocted in his library,
Helens lost to those who couldn’t see them.
A boat arrives at our beach.
Patroclus comes ashore with his dispossessed tongue.
There is a shovel in the ground and a question that ends up
an echo of this Mediterranean gray
hiding itself in a Cuernavacan garden.
We were eternal.
Definitive between the errant syllables of our friend
who translated a world
and its void for us.
Is there a privilege for having heard
this athletic Quasimodo
who broke apart the ancient alphabet
and its August reflections?
What child was he in those boxcars
of salt and remorse?
Which is the song of the men
who shake before an epithet
and get sick in the presence of a precise syllable?
Lines of light rise up
as if they were virgins, vipers
of an age in which the sea was a riverbed.


The Consul has arrived with his desire to stampede in the summer.
He has arrived with his blue jacket and the self-confidence
of someone who wants to die beneath the extinguished smoke
of a mud and putty volcano. Pretense in pieces.
Ancient avenues where harmony is inlaid
between tattered old socks.
And a challenge from the void shakes us all:
Why the hurry? Sparrows from other mountains
come to see, to watch for a delayed interior,
a fragment of the brotherhood that burned in the cantina.
Streets of a Cuauhnáhuac that no longer exists, time
of other statues in parks and gardens that nobody
is never forever not in. Handicrafts of an already
dissolved senate, shops for judges and their cloned
voices, palates for extinct silverware.
Songs of inelegant men who find
their servile whip in generations of snow.
Shipwrecks of small territories that come here from elsewhere
like cadavers with neither peace nor testament. Empty streets,
hotels where cats are martyrs damned by rats.
Old distilleries, places for the foreigner
and his visitations, dreams to continue the search
for a little more grace and deception. Fresh fragrances,
heartbroken dogs as in Aeschylus’s baths.
And those of us who held life in our hands,
we were unable to live it aboard that drunken boat
that set sail for new courses with uncanny composure.