Poem to Circe XIX
I did not come to put things in order, Nor will I spend much time among you. The foreigner knows that the land He most loves is not his and he remains Like an unfamiliar sailor among men. When it’s time to leave, When the wind raises its moorings And the rigging is wrapped with the mysterious Smoke of dawn and the fish Slime is soft in the grotto Where we sacrifice to the gods, When you do not see me among you, Abandon my name to oblivion. I leave you nothing and I take nothing With me. There are no anchors or banners To commemorate my tenure.
Only the long knife of the stars In the night’s open eyes. I haven’t come to ask, or to give, or to be. I haven’t come to sow in your fields Nor do I think of collecting for winter. I have been with you, that’s all. Circe knows what stars, what storms, What millennium moons brought me. I know the signs ruling exile And death and abandon myself To a dark honey blood.
I am iconoclastic and break idols. I affirm and deny with the same force. Those who know me know the fire In my decisions, what brutal force
Accompanies my laughter, what madness Has bitten my chest and the black Mastiffs barking on my heart.
—It was just a man who knew himself A man inside and out. A stranger Who arrived, saw and loved. The humble Adopted him a citizen of the island. A man bound with human skin.
—And he is still alive and remembers you.
From Birnam Wood (Salmon Poetry, 2018) Translated from the Spanish by Hélène Cardona