Two poems: "darkness" and "Kolkata"
Translated by: María José Giménez
Artwork by Christopher Pratt
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
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
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,
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 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.