Guardian of time
look how you drop your elements/ your weight/ your drawing/ your handwriting/ and how like a supplicant you rush from hand to hand/ from body to body/ until you are left without clothing/ among voices and silences already muted by long-ago fires.
And yes/ there is hunger/ hunger of ancient density/ the kind that cannot be sated/ that eats the living forest/ that meanders the ominous cliffs/ that dreams the sea that in the beyond/ the waves/ the wind/ the sky/ the rainbow unfurled/ the full-throated man/ his song/ the words and their gales/ the timbers/ the birds of prey.
The lion is famished and descends the mountain ...
Man is famished and accumulates ...
“Guardian of time” from COLD FIRE: by Verónica Zondek.
Published by World Poetry Books on May 10, 2022.
English Copyright © 2022 by Katherine Silver.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Verónica Zondek is one of Chile’s most renowned and prolific poets, translators, and editors. She has published many books of poetry, and has collaborated extensively with musicians, actors, photographers, dancers, and visual and performance artists. She published a critical edition of the poetry of Nobel Prize-winning poet Gabriela Mistral. Her translations include the works of Gottfried Benn, Derek Walcott, June Jordan, Anne Carson, Emily Dickinson, Anne Sexton, and Gertrude Stein. She lives in Valdivia, Chile.
Katherine Silver’s most recent and forthcoming translations include works by María Sonia Cristoff, César Aira, Julio Cortázar, Juan Carlos Onetti, and Julio Ramón Ribeyro (winner of the Premio Valle-Inclán 2020). She is the former director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre (BILTC), and the author of Echo Under Story. She does volunteer interpreting for asylum seekers.
The English-language debut of Verónica Zondek, Cold Fire is a book-length meditation on the wind in which—according to Eliot Weinberger—the renowned Chilean poet "demonstrates that to think about the wind is to think about everything."
Cold Fire is a timeless chronicle of the human facing the dread and magic of its own materiality. This book-length poem, written in a voice as piercing and tentative as the elements themselves and translated into English by Katherine Silver, is an intimate and irreducible exploration of our vulnerability, solitude, plunder, and death, and posits the wind, with its omnipresent voice and its versatile metaphoric essence, as the fundamental source of energy, renovation, and destruction.
"Like her native condors that leap from a cliff and float for hours on the upstreams, Verónica Zondek glides through a book-length meditation on the wind, here kept aloft in English by the force of Katherine Silver's translation. And, not surprisingly in a narrow country between the wind-generating mountains and sea, Zondek beautifully demonstrates that to think about the wind is to think about everything."
"With energy, gravity, and vibrant movement and rhythm, renowned Chilean poet Verónica Zondek meditates on the complex intertwinings of our bodies with the social world, the natural world, and death. Here, the trauma of anonymity, decomposition, abandonment, exile, and 'the voids of soul', are presented through a poetic narrative of poignant urgency. All of which is communicated in this brilliant new translation by Katherine Silver, one of our most important and distinguished translators of contemporary Latin American literature. This is a moving and surprising book."