It took me years to discover that snowis the least loving form of sleep.I was slow to understand thatthere’s just more white behind its white,a steady hunger that no one has everbeen able to draw, a furtive hand that thievesunsuspecting passers-by when no one’s watching.I received this snow like someone presented withthe keys to an unbuilt house. And up aboveall this atheist white is that pridelesssun, which cares for nobody.At least the tropical sun watches over the thirstthat rasps our throats, gifts the metallicsweat that fades our names and presses atour foreheads with the weight of a promise. Herethe word “sun” reminds me of nothing. It doesn’thave a dazzling eye inside it, a skylike a concave pupil. It trickles from my mouth, driesuncomfortably at the corners of my lips. It doesn’tdrag itself along the sky, doesn’t wake me by bangingits clear hammer against the bell of my brain. Pale roofs,streets stretching out to who knows where,the password of coats and gloves—I stillhaven’t mastered these ways. I walkcarefully, like someone who half-hears voices andgets confused, believing they speakhis language. It’s always with me, this coldlike no one’s bread. (Islandia)Me costó años descubrir que la nievees la forma menos amorosa del sueño.Tardé en comprender quedetrás de su blanco sólo hay más blanco,un hambre plana que nadie ha sabidodibujar, una mano furtiva que hurtatranseúntes desprevenidos cuando nadie la ve.Recibí esta nieve como quien recibe las llavesde una casa que no ha sido construida. Y porencima de tanta blancura atea, esesol sin orgullo, que no cuida de nadie.Al menos el sol del trópico vela por la sedque rasga la garganta, regala ese sudor metálicoque nos destiñe el nombre, que presionala frente con el peso de una promesa. Aquíla palabra sol no me recuerda nada. Nolleva un ojo encandilado por dentro, un cielopupila cóncava. Se me escurre de la boca, se secaincómoda en la comisura de los labios. No se arrastrapor el cielo, no me despierta golpeando su martillo clarocontra la campana de mi cráneo. Los techos pálidos,las calles que se extienden sin saber a dónde,el santo y seña de los guantes y los abrigos, sigosin dominar estas maneras. Camino concuidado, a la manera de quien oye voces amedias y se confunde, creyendo que hablansu idioma. Conmigo, siempre, este fríocomo un pan sin dueño.
English Translation Copyright © 2020 by Robin Myers
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Adalber Salas Hernández was born in Caracas. A poet, essayist, and translator, he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at New York University. He is the author of seven books of poetry, several collections of essays, and numerous translations from English and French. His collection La ciencia de las despedidas was first published by Pre-Textos (Spain) in 2018; Kenning Editions will publish the English version, translated by Robin Myers as The Science of Departures, in Fall 2021.
Robin Myers is a Mexico City-based translator and poet. Recent translations include Cars on Fire by Mónica Ramón Ríos (Open Letter Books), The Restless Dead by Cristina Rivera Garza (Vanderbilt University Press), and Animals at the End of the World by Gloria Susana Esquivel (University of Texas Press). She was among the winners of the 2019 Words Without Borders Poems in Translation Contest. She writes a monthly column for Palette Poetry.
Circumference is a biannual journal of poetry, translation and international culture. We believe translation is a vital part of public and artistic discourse. In print and online, we publish new translations of poetry, drama, and essays, particularly—but not exclusively—from contemporary authors. We’re interested in interviews and dialogues between artists and thinkers of all stripes, and in profiles and other projects that shed light on literary and artistic praxis around the world.