In Translation: Like That Tree // Como ese árbol

Photo: © Nadia Belalia. All Rights Reserved.

Osvaldo Bossi, author of many books of poetry and prose, is celebrated today as Argentina’s most eminent “poeta gay” (as per the Boquitas pintadas blog from Argentina’s national newspaper La Nación). A collection of his poems is forthcoming from Caleta Olivia Press under the title Única luz del mundo (The Only Light in the World). This poem by Osvaldo Bossi, translated by Allison A. deFreese, is from his poetry collection Ruego por el tornado (I Pray for the Tornado) published in Argentina in 2016. The original Spanish follows the English translation.

Like that tree

rustling its leaves
when a bird approaches
and spins around it—
(more iridescent than winged),
without daring to rest
even on one leg,
as if the tree were not a tree
that nature placed there
but a frozen river,
or as if it were about to fall
as if a bird could fell a tree
or as if, deep down, the tree doesn’t want
to lose its equilibrium—even for an instant,
as if it doesn’t hear the whistling
between the leaves, a prolonged mating call,
and the bird knows this
and may think once more
that the sound is his own desire for love
as he circles among the leaves,
as if the tree
lived in a self-contained cage
and trunk and trill
did not come from the same root,
as if a bird
could really be a bird
when he is away from his tree,
and vice versa…

Como ese árbol

que agita su fronda
cuando un pájaro se le acerca
y gira (más que alado, tornasolado)
alrededor suyo, sin atreverse
a posar una sola de sus patas,
como si fuera un río congelado
y no un árbol
que la naturaleza ha puesto
delante de sí, o fuera a derrumbarse:
como si un pájaro
pudiera hacer que un árbol se derrumbe
o el árbol no quisiera, en el fondo
perder por un segundo su estabilidad,
como si no se oyera un silbido
entre las hojas, un largo llamado
de apareamiento, y el pájaro
que se conoce, pensara una vez más
que es su propio deseo de amor
girando entre las hojas,
como si el árbol
viviera en una jaula autosuficiente
y tronco y trino
no provinieran de una misma raíz,
como si un pájaro
pudiera ser un pájaro de verdad,
lejos de su árbol, y a la inversa…

About the Author

Born in Ciudadela, Buenos Aires, Osvaldo Bossi is a poet and fiction writer. Some of his many books include Ruego por el tornado (I Pray for the Tornado), in which this poem appears. His most recent books include Yo soy aquel (I Am That One), A dónde vas con este frío (Where Are You Going in This Cold), Los poemas de amor que el Coyote le escribió al Correcaminos (The Love Poems Written by the Coyote to the Roadrunner), and Las estrellas celosas (The Jealous Stars).

Osvaldo Bossi’s work has appeared in many Argentinian and Latin American poetry anthologies, and a publication of his collected poems is forthcoming from Caleta Olivia Press under the title Única luz del mundo (The Only Light in the World). He coordinates El Rayo Verde reading series, and is known on the web for his contributions as Batman or The Green Wasp. He manages writing programs, as well as coordinating poetry and fiction workshops for groups and individuals.

About the Translator

Allison A. deFreese has previously translated works by María Negroni, Carmen Iriondo, and other Argentinian poets and writers. Her writing and literary translations have appeared in Asymptote, Solstice, The New York Quarterly, The Indiana Review, Southwestern American Literature, Borderlands, Puerto del Sol, Many Mountains Moving, Southword, and Poetry Kanto. Her translation of the book Elegía Joseph Cornell (Elegy for Joseph Cornell) by María Negroni is forthcoming in 2020.

Appears In

Issue 8

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