Translating Carmen Conde for the Web
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Carmen Conde translated by Jim Warner


The Uninterrupted

There is an unending clamor
to shine in the life of your face.
My eyes reflect a blind pursuit
for your beauty. . .

I have come to fear your mystery,
what I donít know about you,
what I donít know about myself.

I seek with a look that drowns
in the bright pools of brotherly proof.
A motionless line, a mountain’s profile
with wetted edges: lakes with round gaps splintering a wild flight of insecurity.

What indifferent serenity comes with
anxious daydreams. Your return, my
secret creature, as a tiger in the panic
of my dormant burning forest.

Change creates volcanoes of time to threaten us all.

—USA, Summer, 2006


Not in half the plaza, not in the gardens
but in all the city, history submits to a

jaguar, pure and delivered from being
possessed and possessing a world
that circulates through his flexible hide.

Not in the unexplored forest, but
in the centuries without wild
animals, the streets are counted in

brief chains of ramshackle homes,
sprinkled through sparse patches of

absurd buildings, standing
prominent and clumsy.

Above this city, the tiger trembled,
an ocean boiling brutal vegetation
in the arch of desperate jaws. His
loneliness swells.

It is not that they seek or they flee,
they embrace him
they are him, they oblige him, they obey him,
obscured by him.

For him, it’s all and nothing
city-jaguar, men-jaguar,
gaps and hills, hills and streets.

To the invalid civilization comes
explosive majesty of the tiger!

—USA, Summer, 2006


A Spring morning already
weary from building a mountain,
seated the old Indian along the curb.

His eyes were as distant as the
hills his beauty leaned upon. He
is indifferent to the parade of
fine alienation.

His clothes are barefoot,
Silence is purified by age, burned
away by his dissolution. . .

The same exact gap spaces
Spring’s mountain range,
a tribe that marches motionless.
Crowds of Indians together alone.

A dazzling sun shadows the
national body in a cloth of light.
Nailing trees to birds without wings,
The children of dust are mute.

This noise thrashes through the
merciless town with landfill dischord.

“There. there, there, there,” Quiet
comforts the Indian in the street—
“Why cover the field of vision with heat?”

The mountains were already lost,
suffocated, by slow
steps of Spanish emerging in Managua.

—USA, Summer, 2006


Scales of Puerto Rico

I began to doubt Time. I found and lost my friends in
the youth poetry parallels:

Pedro contemplated the sea, absorbed by my adolescence.
Juan Ramůn ran head long past immortality, into sickness,

delaying his uncovering paradise. . . I am afraid to think about
those absent spaces. I feel life reinterprets what I return: Volcanoes

offer fossils recovered from forests and birds. Time offers a
closed mouth with a tender body snapped within its cone shaped

trap, like caiman gnawing fruit. They say shadows of words
do not translate into tomorrow’s questions. I yield to the

recognition of friends, responding to their return and erasing
my absence from a heavenly exile.

—USA, Summer, 2006


the thirsty beach

Step to this wave, fed from the thirsty beach.
I step away from my distant country, indignant
to the possessed sensation of my heart. Its
new uncertain owner lights the way.

Lavish lands offer tender creatures that
tie me in sweetening tangles. I infuse the
sea into my veins. The island—my chest.

Spain burns in a sweet lament. I savor the
waves between here and there and bleed dry.

—USA, Summer, 2006


(Nicaragua) returned to the sea

Nicaragua drags bleeding Iberian roots towards
your desert grace. Sweet voiced children reduce
me to pale dazzles.

Savage native beauty drives a cruel wealth into
my side, spilling thick claws of blood, purifying me.

The scar reminds me the length of our history.

—USA, Summer, 2006