In Translation: Two Poems from Ximena Gómez

Ximena Gómez is a Colombian-born author now based in the US. Two of her poems appear here in publication for the first time in their original Spanish, “Último día” and “Jueves,” along with their English translations, respectively, “Last Day” and “Thursday.”

In a joint collaboration, Ximena Gómez and George Franklin translated the originals to English. For each of the two poems below, the original Spanish follows the English translation.

Last Day

On a Saturday afternoon
I will arrive at the dark wooden house,
At the end of the cul-de-sac, next to the golf course.
A golf-cart, its white paint stained with rust,
Will be parked on the grass,
Its shell empty, ghost-like.
The golf course will be deserted, neglected,
The fairway grown impassible. Some trees in the front yard
Will have been cut down, others eaten by insects. I will walk
To the house and knock several times on the door. No one will answer.
I will enter the security code and turn the knob.
Inside in the kitchen, with milky eyes
Almost blind, the dog will lie immobile,
Without recognizing me. Your son, not there,
Might have gone to live in Alaska.
Looking around, I will see books piled on your table,
The dusty fruit bowl filled
With papers, termite droppings….
Dust in the library, on your desk, in the studio.
The patio clean, glistening after the rain.
In your room, the unmade bed, the pillow on the floor,
Your cellphone without a battery, without a charger, useless.
I will wait for you, pointlessly. I will sleep on your mattress without a sheet.
When I wake, the day will be clear, sky blue, sun shining
Above fallen trees and new grass.
It will be the lovely weather of the last day,
As the astronomer Sagan imagined,
Before the sun swells, the earth
Grows hot and life is extinguished,
Before the oceans evaporate,
And the atmosphere escapes
Up, toward infinity.

Último día

Un sábado en la tarde
Llegaré hasta la casa de madera oscura,
Al fondo del callejón, al lado de la cancha.
El carrito de golf, aparcado en la yerba
Con la pintura blanca manchada por el óxido,
Como caparazón vacío, parecerá un fantasma.
La cancha se verá desierta, abandonada, el césped
Crecerá impasible. Algunos árboles del jardín talados,
Otros carcomidos por bichos. Caminaré hasta la casa,
Daré unos toques en tu puerta. Nadie responderá.
Usare la clave de seguridad, girare el picaporte.
Adentro el perro, echado en la cocina, con los ojos lechosos,
Casi ciegos, se quedará inmóvil, sin conocerme. Tu hijo ausente,
Vivirá tal vez en Alaska. Al echar un vistazo
Habrá libros apilados en tu mesa,
El tazón de las frutas con polvo,
Repleto de papeles y caca de termitas.
Polvo en la biblioteca, en tu escritorio, en el estudio.
El patio interior limpio y resplandeciente después de la lluvia.
En tu cuarto, la cama sin tender, la almohada en el suelo.
Tu celular sin batería, sin cargador, inútil.
Te esperaré vanamente. Dormiré en tu colchón sin sábana.
Al despertar el día estará claro, el cielo azul, el sol alumbrará
Sobre los árboles caídos y la hierba nueva.
Será el clima encantador del último día,
Como el que imaginó el astrónomo Sagan.
Antes de que el sol se abulte, la tierra
Se caliente y la vida se extinga.
Los océanos se evaporen
Y la atmosfera escape
Hacia el infinito.

~

Thursday

The stream from the nozzle
Splashed the shower curtain.
Hot water and steam
Clouded the mirror.
I’d never seen you naked in the shower.
The clipped ends of your mustache
Left your mouth’s curve
Uncovered.
The water ran down your body,
Lengthening your man-shape, stretched out
Like a Modigliani.
Wrapped in the towel,
You stepped into the room, your
Face flushed and wet,
Skin still warm from the hot water.
The doors were locked.
The dining room lamp, still on,
Cast its faint light.
Through the window, you could see
Rain coming.
It wasn’t easy lighting the burnt wick
Of our candle on the night table.
The flame kept burning out.
In the morning, I picked up
Some of my hairs
That I left on your pillow.

Jueves

El chorro de la regadera
Salpicaba la cortina del baño,
El agua hirviendo y el vapor
Empañaban el espejo.
Nunca te vi desnudo bajo la ducha.
Las puntas de tu bigote recortadas
Dejaban la curva de tu boca
Al descubierto.
El agua chorreaba por tu cuerpo.
Tu figura viril se alargaba, se perfilaba
Como un retrato de Modigliani.
Envuelto en la toalla
Entraste a la habitación, tenías
El rostro encendido y húmedo
La piel ardida por el agua hirviendo.
Las puertas estaban aseguradas,
La luz tenue de la lámpara del comedor
Aún prendida.
En las ventanas había presagios de lluvia.
A duras penas prendimos el pabilo negro
De nuestra veladora en la mesita.
La llama se consumía poco a poco.
Por la mañana recogí
Algunos de mis cabellos
Que dejé en tu almohada.

 

Ximena - Libro de poesia 35 color.jpg

Ximena Gómez is the author of Habitación con Moscas, published by Torremozas in Madrid (2016). She was born in Bogotá, Colombia, attended Universidad del Valle, and worked as a psychologist before she sought political asylum in the United States in 2000. She now lives in Miami, Florida, where she works as a translator for other refugees seeking asylum. Her poetry and fiction have been published in Revista Nagari, Revista Conexos, Lord Byron Ediciones, and Círculo de Poesía, and her translations of English poetry into Spanish have appeared in Revista Nagari and Revista Alastor.

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Her co-translator, George Franklin, practices law in Miami and teaches poetry workshops in Florida state prisons. He received his MFA from Columbia University and his PhD from Brandeis University. His poems have been published in The Wild Word, B O D Y, The Threepenny Review, The Quarterly, Verse, Salamander, Matter, Scalawag, Sheila-Na-Gig, Gulf Stream, The Ghazal Page, Rumble Fish Quarterly, Vending Machine Press, and Rascal.

 

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