Translating Carmen Conde for the Web
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Carmen Conde translated by Jennifer Hill


the clamorous one shocks, spreads
tirelessly, the dripping melt
of the sun, ah almost alive! A joyous red rock
on my blinded eyes in pursuit of your beauty!
And the mystery.

I do not know, I don’t guess. I fear.
I come from the safe thing, forgotten mine
and yours; but it ignores. I ignore everything, and I seek
with this glance that suffocates in circles
of all brilliance,
a tender, brotherly evidence.

That immovable line, the inviolable mountain range that wets the border in lakes
and in round lagoons,
fascinates me like a crazy uncertain bird.

That indifferent serenity, dormant and agile
for the entire dream, recreated itself
into my secret creature, the one from the panic to the forest and the tiger!

How long just created, and in marching
one of these volcanoes placid in threat!

—USA, Summer, 2006


Not in part of the plaza, not in the gardens,
but in all cities, women submit to the whole,
the ancestral dead, a pure jaguar,
all give over
to the possessive, possessed and possessions
of a world that whirls around and belongs
to its same flexible and impenetrable skin.

Not in the unexplored forest, although for centuries
that came, the others, without the fierceness of foreign heritage.
Here, in counted streets
in the chains of poor houses
they splash absurd buildings.
He is strong and broad,
high and gawky of stature.

In all the city, the tiger,
stretching and roiling like the ocean,
brutal vegetation that arcs
with disparate forces.
Alone and an increasing, dimension, brief.

It is not that they look for him or they flee,
have him; they are him; they command him and they obey him,
commanding to him dark, elastic, multitudes,
For, everything and none: city-jaguar,
men-jaguars, lagoons, hills, hills and streets.
So imponderable it challenges the civilization and expires
the sudden Majesty of the tiger!

—USA, Summer, 2006


One day

One day anyone,
between the blocks of that and that, above and down,
perhaps towards the mountain or to the lake, since I do not understand,
saw a seated old Indian in the curb of a vestibule,

Fine, beautiful dog with the eyes of inconsolable
lagoons and a distance similar in the forehead
The hills that are brought closer calm, to the Momotombo,
indifferent calm,
seated. The indian watches the passenger—
whichever parades before its eyes.

That is the distance. Thus a man is absence.
Old, ragged clothing, barefoot,
quiet, pure in its cancellation

Just as the lagoons are matched to the mountain range,
united; short . Multitudes of Indians in one single tribe who march
past, immovable.

Sun that obscures, shade that dresses the bodies
like pain lifted. Hoist nailed;
birds without wings, like boys, to the sun, dumb.
The dust, the noise, the ruthless city with sweepings.
There. Hush. There, there, there.
An indian in the street—can nothing she places sets the field awash?

Already lost, asphyxiated, my slow cadence
of former spanish emerging in Managua.

—USA, Summer, 2006


Stopover in Puerto Rico

When arriving I doubted it spoke to me
then I met, at the same time, those same friends
who in my adolescence found
where Poetry lives.

Stable Pedro, sitting, contemplating the sea, absorbed;
and stable Juan Ramón, patient, carrying immortalities—

What is taken in returning to paradise?—I am
trembling to discover the space nor absence I gave.
Because I feel in returning, I return to everything:
from the volcano of fire,
from the bird of the forests,
from the alligator of the fruits,
by that mountain range on tremulous lagoons
that closes its conical mouth in the middle of a tender body.
They said words of untranslatable shades
and I did not oppose questions. Recognized who were.
Friends who left before I, and now I go
to erase my long absence of celestial exile.

—USA, Summer, 2006


Being above this wave that feeds on the sand of the tropical beach,
I am above, already, the threshold of my mother country.
And I feel in my heart, that dark creature of indifference,
a sensation filled with gracious certainties.

Oh prodigious earth, indescribable creatures and lavish
with your support a love and a tenderness
that binds in me an eternal vote to your sweet friendship!
Because my mother country is a network of arteries
that invades me as only a single sea can,
I am here, under your protective bosom!

This ship is my mother country, Spain, that is outside yours
and that follows because it speaks
sweetly and slowly, tasting all
like I do with your fruits: blood of all
the ardent universe that the sea reunites and finds.

—USA, Summer, 2006


In the Sea of Return

Nicaragua appeared to me in rough glare
and made contact in the sweet voice of its children...
What were those remote roots that dragged my Iberian blood
towards the desert beauty of Nicaragua?
After knowing it, everything else pales for me.
It stopped all in its passage towards a day other
than his own! Who couldn’t cleanse
himself in her essential tremendous social purification!

Wild native beauty, cruel wealth
that in the Earth sinks his fabulous claw of blood
that by her, spills such length of means,
stopped in your own heavy flowing,
to remember the eternal thing of your powerful breath!

Ignore the return, but return another day
appearing again to me from a memory of history
so inexpressible to return to the Paradise
that was my experience in Nicaragua!

—USA, Summer, 2006