Poems by Hilari de Cara in translation

Splendid executioners, most fertile mothers

But the sieve and the cork – the liquidity of memory -
surrounded us lovingly, marking out a sweet-toothed space:
soft shadows, scarce waterspouts
attracted thirsty travellers -
and if the sky rained red mud and small treasures,
if under the merciless sun lay the burning earth
and the lazy desert of singular trees,
obscure damsels with dusky breasts
and salty pubes like shiny fish
danced vanquished like flames:
hearts of trembling glass within sweet prisons.
Splendid butchers, most fertile mothers,
generous debris, land of the wild boar
and the hunter, of sick angels,
of the vast cry of the wasteland and of the beast.

(From “L’espai del senglar”, 1985 [The Land of the Wild Boar])

Eternal stupor, everything must be inexact,
I want everything inexact, the arbitrary
order of memory, the unpredictable tomorrow
like the drawing of bodies on the sheets
after hours of dishevelment, when the lover
under the lover, the lover within the lover,
exhausted, rub and suck each other
with a splashing of blood: country of fire
and of innocence.
                 Inexact like the flight
of the feather or the song of the bird,
changeable as were the gods at one time
or the sea or the proverbial rivers,
and yet it is life: everything has effect
like the drop of a poppy on the lips of the child.

(From “Quaderns d’Es Llombards[Es Llombards ‘s Notebooks],1991)

Translated from the Catalan at Institut Ramon Llull, Barcelona. Revised by Tom Pow.

The author worked with Tom Pow at Smolenice Castle, Slovakia, as part of a Literature Across Frontiers translation workshop, 7-14 July 2012. 

Hilari de Cara is one of the foremost writers in Catalan. He is not only a multi-award winning poet, he is also a novelist, an essayist, an editor and a wide-ranging translator. He lived for a number of years in New York, but Mallorca is his home. He is a Catalan by instinct and by conviction. His poetry is rich, suggestive, often erotic and troubling. The worlds he presents to us resonate with the debris of history and  the liquidity of memory.