The most perfect image
Were I to sweep every morning this shrub’s
spiky leaves off their harbouring ground,
then I would have a perfect metaphor for the reason
why I’ve come to unlove you. Were I to wipe clean
every morning this window pane and feel
beyond my reflection the distracted transparency
of nothingness, I would see that the shrub
is but a small inferno in the absence of the decasyllabic flame.
Were I to look every morning at the cobweb woven between
its branches, then I would also understand the imperfection
that eats at its thread, from May to August,
disarming its geometry, its colour. Were I even now
to see this poem in the manner of a conclusion, then I would notice
how its lines grow, unrhymed,
in an uncertain and discontinuous prosody
unlike mine. Like slow wind, eroding. I would also learn
that longing belongs to a web woven in another time,
a memory of some insistent beauty perched
on some neuron of mine: the fire of a funeral pyre.
The most perfect image of art. And of farewell.
A mais perfeita imagem (in Portuguese)
Se eu varresse todas as manhãs as pequenas
agulhas que caem deste arbusto e o chão que
lhes dá casa, teria uma metáfora perfeita para
o que me levou a desamar-te. Se todas as manhãs
lavasse esta janela e, no fulgor do vidro, além
do meu reflexo, sentisse distrair-se a transparência
que o nada representa, veria que o arbusto não passa
de um inferno, ausente o decassílabo da chama.
Se todas as manhãs olhasse a teia a enfeitar-lhe os
ramos, também a entendia, a essa imperfeição
de Maio a Agosto que lhe corrompe os fios e lhes
desarma geometria. E a cor. Mesmo se agora visse
este poema em tom de conclusão, notaria como o seu
verso cresce, sem rimar, numa prosódia incerta e
descontínua que foge ao meu comum. O devagar do
vento, a erosão. Veria que a saudade pertence a outra
teia de outro tempo, não é daqui, mas se emprestou
a um neurónio meu, uma memória que teima ainda
uma qualquer beleza: o fogo de uma pira funerária.
A mais perfeita imagem da arte. E do adeus.
© Translated by Ana Hudson, 2008
in A arte de Ser Tigre, 2003
From Unpeopled Eden by Rigoberto Gonzalez
Oh father, oh music man
with a whistle instead of a coin
to toss on your walks,
keep these things for us
until we’re ready to come home:
Our baby teeth, fragments of bone
that rattle in a domino box.
Tuck it in your pocket but please
don’t gamble it away
the way you lost our
christening gowns in poker.
We had outgrown them, true,
but what other proof
did we have that all seven
of our outfits could be stacked
and shuffled like a deck
of cards. Keep the bottle cap
opener hanging by a string.
Wear it like a locket
and stay collared to our after-school
bliss when we found you
underneath a tree that scattered
glass fruit around your feet.
The boys lined them up
for death by slingshot
and the girls giggled
when the bodies shattered.
Take good care of our drawings,
our crooked handwriting
exercises, the scribbles of our names,
and sew a suit with sailboats
on the sleeves, a coat with Qs
sliding down a wire, and pants
that celebrate our pre-pubescent
autographs. And in your shoe–
don’t tell us which! let us guess!–
save the coin you told us
came from China. It had a hole
in the middle because the merchants
slid their change on chopsticks.
We pictured them on market
Sundays holding up their earnings
like a shish kabob. We know
you hid the coin because all seven
of us wanted it and so you
took it with you. Or so I claimed.
Can I be blamed, oh father, oh story
man, for wanting to possess
the single thing that couldn’t be shared?
You saw me slide it out
the window of your wallet
while you napped and didn’t
snap into attention to complain.
Of all your sons and daughters
it is I who wanted to escape the most
to anywhere. I learned the desperate
alchemy of flowering a barren day
with song from you, oh master.
A minstrel needs his freedom.
And so you let me take it.
Excerpted from Unpeopled Eden by Rigoberto González with permission from the author. Copyright 2013. Published by Four Way Books.