Destinados al Olvido? (Destined for Oblivion?)

By JUAN ANTONIO GONZÁLEZ IGLESIA

Translated by CURTIS BAUER

Álvaro Mutis habla lentamente.

Una entrevista en un canal hispano.

Me interesa el desgaste de las cosas.

Me interesa el desgaste de los héroes.

El tono coloquial hace posible

estas palabras: Somos destinados

al olvido. A olvidar

y a que nos olviden.

Y así está bien.

Necesito salir. Llueve en el campus.

Llego al sencillo banco de madera

donado por aquellos que te amaron.

Otra vez leo la inscripción pequeña

Como tarjeta de visita en bronce:

In loving memory

En memoria de Justin A. Colonna

Son, brother & friend

Feb, 1, 1976—Dec, 8, 1999.

Leo tu claro nombre de italiano

patricio en este extremo de occidente,

mientras octubre se concreta en húmedas

hojas caídas sobre el banco donde

se habrán sentado tantos estudiantes.

Me viene al corazón el verso homérico

que compara a los hombres con las hojas.

También, nos aseguran los biólogos,

constituye el otoño una segunda

primavera. Es probable que se cumplan

las palabras de un padre de la Iglesia

que afirmó todo en la naturaleza

nos anticipa la resurrección.

Por si acaso, escribimos, por si es cierto.

Por si el olvido fuera un episodio

provisional en nuestro largo viaje.

En medio de esta lluvia quién sabría

si somos destinados al olvido.

Tengo en cuenta el amor, el bronce, el breve

número de tus años y comprendo

que a mí, que no sé nada de tus días,

me corresponde ahora recordarte.

 

***

Álvaro Mutis speaks slowly.

It’s an interview on a Spanish channel.

I’m interested in the depletion of things.

I’m interested in the depletion of heroes.

The colloquial tone makes these words

possible: We are destined

for oblivion. To forget

and to be forgotten.

And that’s alright.

I need to go out. It’s raining on campus.

I come to the simple wood bench

donated by those who loved you.

I read the little inscription again,

like a bronze visiting card:

In loving memory

In memory of Justin A. Colonna

Son, brother, & friend

Feb. 16, 1976—Dec. 8, 1999.

I read your clearly patrician Italian surname

on this extremity of the west,

while October becomes more tangible

in wet fallen leaves on the bench where

so many students have rested.

A Homeric verse wells up in my heart

that compares men to leaves.

And the biologists assure us that

Autumn means a second

Spring. This is most likely the fulfillment of

the words of some Church father

who affirmed, everything in nature

anticipates the resurrection.

Just in case it’s true, we write.

In case oblivion were a provisional

episode on our long journey.

In the middle of this rain who would know

if we are destined for oblivion.

I have love in mind, bronze, the brief

number of your years, and I understand

that it’s up to me, who knows nothing

about your days, to remember you right now.

 

Curtis Bauer has published and has poems and translations forthcoming in Circumference, The American Poetry Review, 32 Poems, Fulcrum and Ninth Letter. He teaches Creative Writing and Translation at Texas Tech University.

Destinados al Olvido? (Destined for Oblivion?)

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