Álvaro Hernando Freile: “Tahalí (Addiction)”

 

Translated by María Luisa Ortega Hernández (DePaul University of Chicago) and read by Antonio Martínez Arboleda (University of Leeds)

 

tahalí (*)(Addiction)

 

            The slavery of desire

      or suffering dressed as sex

 

I swallow the smoke at your waist

as a tahalí of fingerprints,

as a curved abacus

where beads balance

when he joins in, adding one more.

 

Dollar bills on fire

a hip on fire

a hand on fire

beading on fire

invoice price on fire.

 

I dress in that chain,

unbreakable, made of touch

as if an anchor

subjugated

submerged in your depth

an invisible leather

moored fast into your earth.

 

How do I break you?

(*)TRANSLATOR’S NOTE: Even though the Oxford English Dictionary records the word “tahalli,” indicating as erroneous the form “tahali,” J. G. Lockhart’s translation of The Spanish Ballads (1822 publication) leaves it in the original Spanish except for the accent: “Of gold-wrought robe or turban — nor jewelled tahali.” (“The Zegri’s Bride”). John Parkinson does the same in his poem “The Death of Khalid Ibn Walid. ‘The Sword of God.’”: “Not thus, / Not thus should Khalid die. What ho! my spear, / My mail, and helm, and gleaming tahali;” (Parkinson, John. Lays of Love and War. Ardrossan: Arthur Guthrie & Sons, 1890, 46-50). Likewise, H. W. Longfellow uses the Spanish word, printed with the Spanish accent (1856 & 1886 editions: “tahalíes”) and without the accent (1835 edition): “A band of Moorish knights gayly arrayed in gambesons of crimson silk, with scarfs of blue and jewelled tahalies, […]” (“Ancient Spanish Ballads.” Outre-mer: A Pilgrimage Beyond the Sea. New York: Harper, 1835, 1-26). Now, among such noble company and upon considerable reflection, this translator feels compelled to leave the original Spanish “tahalí” in her English translation—accent included—as the best word to render the Spanish-Moorish voice it evokes, and the mystical depth revealed by its meaning.

My gratitude to all the librarians who facilitated my research for the title of this poem in translation. Special thanks to Jennifer Schwartz, Humanities and Social Sciences Librarian, John T. Richardson Library, DePaul University, whose enthusiasm, knowledge, and guidance led this amazing team: Susan Bazargan, Research and Reference Librarian, DePaul University; and Kathy Young, University Archivist/Curator of Rare Books, Loyola University Chicago Archives & Special Collections. No wonder Jorge Luis Borges envisioned Paradise as a library!

 

 

Poema leído por el autor

 

tahalí (adicción)

 

             La esclavitud del deseo

    o el sufrimiento vestido de sexo

 

Trago el humo en tu cintura

como tahalí de huellas,

como curvado ábaco

en el que cuadran las cuentas

al sumarle uno de más.

 

Billetes en llamas

cadera en llamas

mano en llamas

abalorio en llamas

factura en llamas.

 

Me visto esa cadena,

irrompible, hecha de roce

como de un ancla

atraillado

sumergido en tu profundidad

invisible el cuero

aterrado a ti.

 

¿Cómo quebrarte?

 

Ex-Clavo. Valencia: Karima Editora, 2018, 62ández

Federico García Lorca: “The Gipsy Nun”

 

The Gipsy Nun

 

Translated by Thea Mair (University of St Andrews)

 

White lime and myrtle’s silence. 

Mallows in fine sod. 

The nun sews jewel-like flowers 

on a cloth as pale as straw. 

In the spidery grey of the chandelier, 

seven spectral birds soar. 

The church, a bear, belly up,

growls on from afar.  

She sews so skillfully, with such ease! 

She longs to stitch

across that cloth

the flowers of her fantasy.

Such sunflowers and magnolias live in 

sequins and ribbons!

Such moonflowers and crocuses grace

the Mass napery!

Five grapefruits grow sweet 

in the nearby kitchen. 

The five wounds of Christ 

made new in Almería. 

Through the eyes of the nun, 

a pair of horsemen gallop. 

A last, muffled murmur

strips her of her shift and,

gazing on the clouds and mountains

of the listless distance, 

her heart of sugar

and verbena breaks.

Twenty suns crown

that erect plain!

In her fantasy she can still perceive

Those standing rivers! 

Yet she persists with her flowers

While above, on the breeze, 

The light plays high chess 

With the window’s tracery.

 

La monja gitana

 

Silencio de cal y mirto.

Malvas en las hierbas finas.

La monja borda alhelíes

sobre una tela pajiza.

Vuelan en la araña gris,

siete pájaros del prisma.

La iglesia gruñe a lo lejos

como un oso panza arriba.

¡Qué bien borda! ¡Con qué gracia!

Sobre la tela pajiza,

ella quisiera bordar

flores de su fantasía.

¡Qué girasol! ¡Qué magnolia

de lentejuelas y cintas!

¡Qué azafranes y qué lunas,

en el mantel de la misa!

Cinco toronjas se endulzan

en la cercana cocina.

Las cinco llagas de Cristo

cortadas en Almería.

Por los ojos de la monja

galopan dos caballistas.

Un rumor último y sordo

le despega la camisa,

y al mirar nubes y montes

en las yertas lejanías,

se quiebra su corazón

de azúcar y yerbaluisa.

¡Oh!, qué llanura empinada

con veinte soles arriba.

¡Qué ríos puestos de pie

vislumbra su fantasía!

Pero sigue con sus flores,

mientras que de pie, en la brisa,

la luz juega el ajedrez

alto de la celosía.