Five Poems

by Gabriela Aguirre, translated by Laura Cesarco Eglin

Gabriela Aguirre is a poet from Querétaro, México. She is the author of four poetry collections: La frontera: un cuerpo (2003), El lugar equivocado de las cosas (2011), La casa es una espora (2015), and La isla de tu nombre (Veliz Books, 2017). Her work has also been published in various literary magazines and journals in Mexico, as well as in numerous anthologies. Aguirre is the recipient of many prizes, including the 2003 Premio Nacional de Poesía Joven Elías Nandino, the 2007 Premio Nacional de Poesía Enriqueta Ochoa for her book El lugar equivocado de las cosas. The play Homenaje a un ciego que abrió los ojos, directed by Rodrigo Canchola, is based on a selection of her poems. She received an MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish from the University of Texas at El Paso and a PhD in Literature from the Universidad de Guanajuato.

Laura Cesarco Eglin is the author of three poetry collections: Calling Water by Its Name, translated by Scott Spanbauer (Mouthfeel Press, 2016), Sastrería (Yaugurú, 2011), and Los brazos del saguaro (Yaugurú, 2015). She has also published the chapbooks Occasions to Call Miracles Appropriate (The Lune, 2015) and Tailor Shop: Threads, co-translated with Teresa Williams (Finishing Line Press, 2013). Cesarco Eglin has translated works of Colombian, Mexican, Uruguayan (both from the Spanish and the Portuñol), Galician, and Brazilian authors into English. Her translation of Hilda Hilst’s poetry collection Da morte. Odes mínimas is forthcoming from co.im.press (October 2018). Her poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in a variety of journals, including Modern Poetry in Translation, Massachusetts Review, Eleven Eleven, Puerto del Sol, Copper Nickel, Tupelo Quarterly, Columbia Poetry Review, Blood Orange Review, Timber, Pretty Owl Poetry, Spoon River Poetry Review, Pilgrimage. She is the co-founder and publisher of Veliz Books.

When I translated these poems from El lugar equivocado de las cosas (The Mistaken Place of Things, Fondo editorial Querétaro, 2011) I constantly thought of the word elsewhere. The speaker is in a certain place, thinking of other places—places she is not in and has been in the past or will never be again in the future. There is therefore, a saudade (nostalgia and yearning for that which has been as well as for that which has not happened) that permeates the poems.

Something that is common to all the poetry of Gabriela Aguirre, and not just this book, is that there is a particular calmness to the voice, nothing that shocks or startles. And yet, each poem pokes us, punctures us, and makes us reread Aguirre’s work. This is why I would say that the poems are deceptively simple. These are poems that are easy to connect to and while we are dwelling in them, they provoke realizations, changes, and insights.

—Laura Cesarco Eglin


Five Untitled Poems from The Mistaken Place of Things by Gabriela Aguirre
Translated from the Spanish by Laura Cesarco Eglin

 

I invent myself along the way
I just want a bit of audience
a microphone with the right volume
and in the dark the voice of my father
uterus where I float and fall
like sound that becomes echo in his chest
while I sleep after a party.
I dreamed I was another, I swear.
But something fell in the room I slept in
and it was already five
and the alarm clock.


There’s no heating in this house
and you tell me about the cold and the snow.
Julio is asleep on the bed
and I read a letter
to be somewhere else.
The desert I knew is also that:
a city where I am no longer.


In the photos I’m not in
the smiles and the red of a blouse
to tell me that I’ve left
that distance exists
and that it’s not just
a repeated word in my writing.

In the photos I’m not in
the space where my hand
would be on your shoulder
so that in ten years
your children find somewhere
an image of us
so us.

But I’m not there.

The invitation arrived on time
but I wasn’t there
to see you take his foreign hand
to hear you promise him things
in our language.

I’m not in that photo:
omen maybe
of a greater absence.


It’s a cliché to talk about flowers that die.
But they die beside me
in the vase on my desk.


I saw the ships sail away
and the people raise their hand
to wave goodbye.
I’ve watched the women see their men off
kiss them hastily
write them a letter without words
on the neck they kissed
just a few hours ago.
And yet I don’t know
how certain verbs should be conjugated
when the heart is an organ that parts
and I haven’t learned to say goodbye
nor to leave the cities
in the cities.


Five Untitled Poems from El lugar equivocado de las cosas by Gabriela Aguirre

 

Me invento sobre la marcha
sólo quiero un poco de público
un micrófono con el volumen adecuado
y en la oscuridad la voz de mi padre
útero en el que floto y caigo
como el sonido vuelto eco en su pecho
mientras duermo después de una fiesta.
Soñé que era otra, lo juro.
Pero algo se cayó en el cuarto en que dormía
y ya eran las cinco
y el despertador.


En esta casa no hay calefacción
y tú me hablas del frío y de la nieve.
Julio está dormido sobre la cama
y yo leo una carta
para estar en otra parte.
El desierto que conocí es también eso:
una ciudad en la que no estoy más.


En las fotografías en que no estoy
las sonrisas y el rojo de una blusa
para decirme que me he ido
que la distancia existe
y que no es nada más
una palabra repetida en lo que escribo.

En las fotografías en que no estoy
el espacio en que mi mano
estaría sobre tu hombro
para que dentro de diez años
tus hijos encuentren en algún sitio
una imagen con nosotras
tan nosotras.

Pero no estoy.

La invitación llegó a tiempo
pero no estuve ahí
para verte tomar su mano extranjera
para escucharte prometerle cosas
en nuestro idioma.

No estoy en esa fotografía:
presagio tal vez
de una ausencia más grande.


Un cliché hablar de flores que se mueren.
Pero se mueren junto a mí
en el jarrón de mi escritorio.


Vi los barcos alejarse
la gente levantar la mano
para decir adiós.
He visto a las mujeres despedirse de sus hombres
besarlos precipitadamente
escribirles una carta sin palabras
en el cuello que besaron
apenas hace unas horas.
Y sin embargo no sé
cómo deben conjugarse ciertos verbos
cuando el corazón es un órgano que parte
y no he aprendido a despedirme
ni a dejar las ciudades
en las ciudades.

 


Gabriela Aguirre is a poet from Querétaro, México. She is the author of four poetry collections: La frontera: un cuerpo (2003), El lugar equivocado de las cosas (2011), La casa es una espora (2015), and La isla de tu nombre (Veliz Books, 2017). Her work has also been published in various literary magazines and journals in Mexico, as well as in numerous anthologies. Aguirre is the recipient of many prizes, including the 2003 Premio Nacional de Poesía Joven Elías Nandino, the 2007 Premio Nacional de Poesía Enriqueta Ochoa for her book El lugar equivocado de las cosas. The play Homenaje a un ciego que abrió los ojos, directed by Rodrigo Canchola, is based on a selection of her poems. She received an MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish from the University of Texas at El Paso and a PhD in Literature from the Universidad de Guanajuato.

Laura Cesarco Eglin is the author of three poetry collections: Calling Water by Its Name, translated by Scott Spanbauer (Mouthfeel Press, 2016), Sastrería (Yaugurú, 2011), and Los brazos del saguaro (Yaugurú, 2015). She has also published the chapbooks Occasions to Call Miracles Appropriate (The Lune, 2015) and Tailor Shop: Threads, co-translated with Teresa Williams (Finishing Line Press, 2013). Cesarco Eglin has translated works of Colombian, Mexican, Uruguayan (both from the Spanish and the Portuñol), Galician, and Brazilian authors into English. Her translation of Hilda Hilst’s poetry collection Da morte. Odes mínimas is forthcoming from co.im.press (October 2018). Her poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in a variety of journals, including Modern Poetry in Translation, Massachusetts Review, Eleven Eleven, Puerto del Sol, Copper Nickel, Tupelo Quarterly, Columbia Poetry Review, Blood Orange Review, Timber, Pretty Owl Poetry, Spoon River Poetry Review, Pilgrimage. She is the co-founder and publisher of Veliz Books.

☝ BACK TO TOP