Vocation and Exploration

Fernando Valverde

Translated by: Liam Walke

Artwork by Thomas Sørenes

I would like to tell you

about the worn-out emptiness of these four walls,

about the rain that has fallen since time learned

to look on me with scorn, like a clown who laughs

with a painted face and filthy tears.


I would like to tell you

that everything here ends up resembling winter,

that December is meeker than any hideaway,

that a dry wind lies behind the falsehoods,

the false fears and the premonitions.


I would like to meet you here

to forget that the world is the world,

to hold each other close

and see the infinity of each commitment,

to accept the margins of perfect words,

to forget the winters and the worn-out emptiness

of these four walls.


I told you that poems always

turn out to be restrained fiction.


So let’s survive

beyond verses and literature,

from on top of trains and over landscapes,

from behind the voices that

demand an explanation for each hope.


If resignation must follow

the sensation that weighs on the chest, leaving it

nearly lifeless, helpless, sometimes excited,

then let’s speak of sweltering bedrooms,

of soiled sheets and lost lust,

of all the betrayals hidden in closets,

of tedium and of the letters

soldiers write when they’re dying

of fright in the trenches,

like a lover who holds onto

life in a repentant embrace.


Only then, maybe, will that miracle be possible,

the one maintained in the poetry books we read.


It is not just a matter of perspective.

Let’s keep watching the truth

in the verses that tell made-up stories.

Remind me, between walls that remain impartial

and seem nervous, of the weight of these days.


I brought you to my nights not knowing you were looking for

a light that would last much longer than a second.


So it remains

that yielding to the edges of eternities

is more a matter of faith than of words.


Let’s move, then, towards our solitude.

Fernando Valverde
Fernando Valverde is a critically acclaimed poet based in Granada, Spain. Among the most talented (and awarded) peninsular poets of his generation, his work has been published in Spain (by Visor Libros) and throughout Latin America, Italy, and the United States. Valverde is the director and co-founder of the Festival Internacional de poesía de Granada.

Liam Walke
Liam Walke is relatively new to literary translation, though his work has appeared previously in Diálogos online literary forum, and his translation of Valverde’s “Paisaje nevado” is forthcoming in the spring issue of the Blue Lyra Review. Liam works as a freelance translator and editor, splitting his time between Montreal and Ottawa.