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REI BERROA —DOMINICAN REP./USA—


Rei Berroa (Dominicana, 1949)


Is Emeritus Professor in Spanish at George Mason University. He has authored numerous books of poems, poetry anthologies,and critical research. Criticism: El cuerpo hendido: Poéticas de la m/p/aternidad (México: Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, 2020) and Aproximaciones a la literatura dominicana. 2 vols. (Santo Domingo, 2008 and 2009). Poetry: Sonpalomas pensajeras (La Paz-Santa Cruz: Bolivia, 2023), Librode los dones ylos bienes(Mexico, 2013; Caracas, 2010), Eufemistica per viveretranquilli (Trieste, Italy, 2011). For the 2014 DominicanBook Fairin NewYork, dedicatedto his work, the Ministry ofCulture published the552-page anthology of his work: De quites y querencias:antojología de poemasy poéticas(1974-2014). He received the Trieste International Poetry Award for life achievement in poetry (Trieste, 2011) and the Mihai Eminescu Prize of Romania (Craiova, 2012). He has been partially translated into some 40 languages. He coordinates each year the Poetry Marathon of Teatro de la Luna in Washington, DC, and the World Poetry Day Festival.


‑I‑



¿Qué peso es

el que lleva en la camisa

este berroa[1]

que se ha puesto

la cabeza del revés?


)Cómo piensa que va a encontrarse así

en esta edad de partido y oficina?

Y si viene y nos cuestiona

sobre el mundo o sobre el aire,

)qué le vamos a decir al pobre iluso?

)Cómo indicarle que no debe preguntar

si es que ya sabe?


Y al venir y plantarse a nuestra vera

con su olor a vino y carcajada,

)por qué se rasca

el corolario de la vida,

llega tarde a sus reuniones,

se olvida de pagar sus hipotecas,

sus deudas surrealistas,

y el abrazo que le debe a Lautréamont?


Pequeño funcionario que imagina,

no sabe este burócrata

qué parte del horario sólo existe

de la noche al esqueleto

y cuál otra le podría

dejar la mañana boquiabierta,

temblando de rocío,

como un dios que va a pecar.



-I-



What weight

does this berroa[2]

bear on his back,

that it has made him

wear his head backwards?


How can he think he will find himself like that

in this age of political parties, offices for profit?

And if he comes and questions us

on the world or on the air,

what are we going to say to this poor deluded one?

How do we explain to him you shouldn't ask

if you already know?


And when he comes and plops down right next to us

with his smell of wine and laughter,

why does he scratch at

the corollary of life,

arrive at his meetings late,


forget to make his mortgage payments,

his anarchist debts,

and the hug he owes Lautréamont?


Minor functionary of the imagination,

this bureaucrat does not know

which part of his timetable only exists

from the night to his skeleton

and which other part might

leave the morning open‑mouthed,

dew‑shaking

like a god who's going to sin.



CÁNTARO QUE CAE



A pesar de que el barro es su materia

y le contiene

un hombre no es simplemente un cántaro que cae

vertigoso,

estridente,

compungido

sobre lo duro de la tierra

para luego quebrarse en mil

bondades

inalcanzables todas

para la delgadez del aire.



FALLING URN


Even though clay is his material

and contains him

a man is more than an urn falling

shrill

dizzy

remorseful

on the hardened earth

only to break in a thousand shards

of goodness

inaccessible

to the fragility of air.


[Translated by Tracy Lewis with the author]





TRES FRAGMENTOS CONTRA LA ESPESURA


‑1‑


Es el miedo a Soledad

lo que socava a los humanos.


Igual que Dios creó el mundo

por un terrible pavor a quedarse

para siempre al desamparo de la noche,

sin poder besar a nadie a su antojo en el ombligo,

en contra,

como es obvio,

de su cárcel de Unidad,


así también,

en los inicios,

se dijeron los amantes:

No es bueno que Dios sea soledad.

Amémonos.

Quizá podamos sacarle del vacío.


Desde entonces,

y convocada por el hombre y la mujer al desnudarse,

ha venido cayendo una creciente claridad

sobre lo espeso de la tierra

y Dios ha consolidado su puesto

y dice que es familia.




‑2‑


Dios no nos oye

no nos puede oír como se dice

que lo hiciera antaño.

Se echa a reír detrás de la puerta

en la habitación en donde le hemos confinado


y no sabemos bien por qué hemos querido tenerle allí

tan ampliamente y a su aire

a qué se deberá que no nos oiga

que luego escape tan a gusto por entre la ventana

que deje el caserón abandonado y las flores

del jardín muriéndose de espanto

y que se marche por ahí

sin saber nosotros adónde va

o por qué

después de esta invención nuestra peculiar y necesaria

le hayamos permitido

ausentarse de la leve inconveniencia

de ser como nosotros los humanos.


)Nos odiará Dios por haberle creado

a imagen y medida de nuestras pesadumbres?




‑3‑


En los inicios,

y siguiendo la creencia natural

que tenía con respecto a lo divino,

deambulaba el hombre por la vida

sin saber por qué ni para qué.

Pero un día, en medio de la noche,

dio con otro ser

que lo complementaba.


Después de conocerla y descubrirse

el hombre se olvidó de Dios.

Cuentan que otro tanto le sucedió a ella

que, por caminos muy distintos,

había venido sufriendo

las mismas vehemencias.


Y es que

sólo la carne

nos libera de la divinidad.





THREE FRAGMENTS AGAINST DENSITY


‑1‑


It is the fear of Solitude

that undermines humans.


In the same way God created the world

out of a terrible fear of being

forever left in the abandon of night,

without being able to kiss anyone, at Her whim, in the navel,

against,

as is obvious, Her prison of Unity,


so also,

in the beginning, lovers said to themselves:

It is not good that God be Solitude.

Let us love each other.

Perhaps we can save Her from the void.


Since then,

summoned by man and woman taking off their clothes,

a growing clarity has descended

over the density of the earth,

and God has consolidated Her position

and says that She is family.



‑2‑


God does not hear us.

He cannot hear us, as they say

He used to in ancient times.

He bursts into laughter behind the door

of the room where we have confined Him


and do not know why we wanted to keep Him there

so spaciously and free to wander,

why does He not hear us,

why does He so eagerly escape through the window,

leave His house abandoned and the flowers

in the garden dying of fear

and why does He walk away from here

without our knowing where He is going

or why,

after we have allowed this invention of ours,

so peculiar and necessary,

to absent Himself from the mild inconvenience

of being like ourselves, human.


Will God hate us for having created Him

in the image and by the measure of our own suffering?



‑3‑


In the beginning,

and following the natural belief

that he had with respect to the divine,

man wandered through life

without knowing why, or for what.

But one day, in the middle of the night

he met another being who complemented him.


After knowing her and discovering himself,

man forgot God.


They say the same thing happened to her

who, by very different roads,

had come through

the same suffering.


And it is that

only the flesh

liberates us from divinity.




[Translated by Tom Jones and the author]



[1]berroa = “pequeño zarzal en el campo” o también “el que quiere ser bueno” en lengua vasca. [2] berroa: = "little bush in the fields" or also "the one who wants to be good," in Basque language.

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