Thursday, April 15, 2010

a poem by heberto padilla

A Fountain, a House of Stone
A fountain, a house of stone,
a bridge, a chapel with a weather vane
and a squeaking hinge in the door,
a road bordered by flowers
and, farther on, a river.

Can we describe the world this way,
eyes wide open, shoes up on the table
with a dusky halo like a lantern,
and the still face, distant and ever-demanding,
nailing us down with its eyes,
hunting down in our innards
the cowardly swagger of allegory?
It is possible. The world can be described
in any way you like. You might
come out with one last twist of the facts, as they say,
our last coin
to take us back again to that river
that attends our childhood as it does old age.
One might cross the bridge
among the bamboo which creaks once again
like a bridge across a river,
in such a way that the hinge we have hung on to
since we were children
becomes stronger as time passes.
The house, the road bordered by flowers, and the chapel
thereby belong to us,
or we belong to them. It's all the same.
Translated from the Spanish by the Alastair Reid and Alexander Coleman

Padilla, Heberto. "A Fountain, a House of Stone" The Vintage Book of Contemporary Poetry. New York: Vintage Books, 1996.