Roberto Fernández Retamar

A Man And A Woman

Who must there be?
A man and a woman.

If a man and a woman happen down the streets that no one else notices,
Back streets where night is about to fall and the wind is rising,
The landscape beyond both new and old, more like music than landscape;
If a man and a woman cause trees to spring up in their step,
And walls to burst into flame,
And make heads turn as if surprised by the sudden blast of a trumpet
Or the gaudy colors of a circus parade;
If when a man and a woman approach the neighborhood chatter falls silent,
The sidewalk rocking chairs cease their rocking, corner keychains no longer swing
And tired breath becomes a sigh,
It is because love so rarely passes by that to see it
Brings wonder, shock, astonishment, nostalgia
As if one heard a language perhaps once known
Which the tongue scarcely remembers
Except as whispers and the remains of whispers?

Translated by Mark Weiss


Blessèd Are the Normal

for Antonia Elriz

Blessèd are the normal, those rare creatures
Who have no crazy mother, drunken father, delinquent child,
Nowhere house, unknown disease,
Who haven’t been burn by devouring love,
Who could live the seventeen faces of the smile and maybe more,
Filled with shoes, archangels in hats,
Satisfied, fat, handsome,
The rintintins and their followers, the ones who grease the wheels,
The winners, the endlessly desired,
Flautists followed by mice,
Vendors and their customers
Knights only slightly superhuman
Men dressed in thunder and women in lightning
The delicate, the prudent, the cunning,
The amiable, the sweet, the edible, the drinkable.
Blessèd are the birds, the dung, the stones.

But let those pass who make worlds, dreams,
Illusions, symphonies, words that confuse
and construct us, those crazier than their mothers, drunker
Than their fathers more delinquent than their children
And more devoured by burning love.
May they descend to their station in hell, and be done with.

Translated by Mark Weiss