Two poems: "darkness" and "Kolkata"

Alejandro Saravia

Translated by: María José Giménez

Original text: "la oscuridad" y Kolkata" "


Artwork by Christopher Pratt

 











darkness


for a moment there was light in this dark room

to escape it we must lose ourselves

in the substrates of the deepest darkness

until our breath and the darkness

become a single pulse

 

to know the sharp spaces

of the night that inhabits us

we must lose ourselves in alcohol

 

behind its glaucous light is the first face

the green and yellow foliage and the evening

the wrinkled hand, the rocky river

the red gunshot bursting temples

 

in that land, around every corner

perhaps the answer

perhaps a new question

perhaps, again, the act that ruined the path

the word that made us who we are

 

night in Montreal is made

of twisted vessels and communicating liquids

in the early morning

an old woman’s face on Saint Catherine Street

offers up a heaven of mud while she devours your sex

 

you open your eyes and see your brother

before he goes to war

his curly hair, his wide eyes

his veins destroyed

 

everything is a sign of what we seek

stone tracks, glass and asphalt

a silent ambulance passes

carrying the dying

 

suddenly a grenade explodes in your head

you see your breath leaving your mouth

like a ghost floating

in the early morning cold

there are no friends, no brothers

 

only survivors

 

on the stairway from heaven to earth

you must step down into the strata of the night

until your pulse and the darkness

become a single breath



Kolkata


I know there is a woman

I love in Kolkata.

I have never seen her, it’s true

— it may never happen —

but I know there is a woman I love

in the streets of Kolkata.

 

Love is like that:

a wish of words in Bengali,

a geographical feature

seeking a face

on the streets of Kolkata.

 

She is home wearing

an orange sari, that, I know.

Love draws from afar

these words and these lines

on the palm of each hand,

lines of roads, passages

and this exact hypothesis.

 

There is only

the evidence of love:

love is a quiet,

abstract map.

Alejandro Saravia

Alejandro Saravia was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and since 1986 has lived in Quebec, where he works as a journalist. His work appears in Canadian journals and newspapers, and his publications include the novel Rojo, amarillo y verde (2003) and six books of poems. He is part of Montreal’s Hispanic-Canadian collective The Apostles Review.

María José Giménez

María José Giménez is a Venezuelan-Canadian poet and translator. Her publications include poetry, short fiction, a mountaineering memoir, and Alejandro Saravia's novel Red, Yellow and Green (Biblioasis, 2016), winner of 2016 NEA Translation Fellowship. She is part of Montreal's collective The Apostles Review and Assistant Translation Editor at Drunken Boat.