El arce en mi traspatio
Buenos días, Árbol…
Sí, has visto tanto:
tiempos congelados profundos que se quiebran.
¿Cuántos “anillos” hay dentro de tu tronco?
Un siglo y un cuarto – es lo que pienso.
Un retoño eras en mil novecientos,
y has aguantado nevascas y trueno.
En esos brazos amplios ellos viven y se jalan:
mapache en su siesta, ardilla y su nido;
pájaro-trepador al revés, pájaro-carpintero con su mazo;
y la pura voz del cardenal – el amante en su alba.
Eres escultura escueta; eres febrero en su rigor.
Eres junio, julio, y la fronda que timbra con
todas criaturas – incluyendo a mí;
tu paraguas – parasol – nosotros buscamos.
Octubre llega, y nos expones los colores más vívidos
– pues aúlla el aire.
Giran las estaciones, pero te mantienes en tus trece…
Árbol, me enseñas La Vida
– porque estoy listo ahora.
The Maple tree in my backyard
“Morning”, Tree… Yes, you’ve seen much:
heat waves, storms, deep freezes that crunch.
How many “rings” are there in your trunk?
A century – plus a quarter, I think.
Sapling you were in 1900,
and you’ve stood fast: hard blizzards and thunder.
In those broad arms they live and they scurry:
raccoon at siesta, the nesting squirrel;
upside-down nuthatch, a woodpecker’s hammer;
cardinal’s voice – the dawn-pure lover.
You’re sculpture, stark; you’re February strong;
in June and July that canopy rings
with birds and creatures – including me;
your umbrella – or parasol – all of us seek.
October comes, and you glorious show
most vividest colours – and then the winds howl.
Seasons revolve, yet steady you are:
Tree, you’re teaching me Life
– for now I am ready.
. . .
Otros ZP poemas sobre árboles / Other ZP poems about trees:
. . . . .
Lost and pounding
– Heed me!
. . .
My love and I go down to the well
With buckets at our waists,
and dip the vessels in, refresh ourselves,
Then give we chase…
The sparkling drench is ours,
Extravagance of simple choice.
We swallow all, we surge and runneth over
By such device.
And liquid Time a-rushing flows,
And tolls the bell for me,
And us – where did our children go?
Could we abandoned be?
My love and I went down to the well
And turned our buckets over;
And sat upon them;
Sighed and waited
– waited, sighed –
. . .
Poema al Agua
Mi amada y yo, vamos al pozo
Con cántaros a la cintura,
Los metemos al agua, nos refrescamos y
El líquido brillante que nos empapa es nuestro,
una extravagancia fácil de escoger;
nos la tomamos, resurgimos y
nos dejamos atropellar por tal método.
Y el Tiempo líquido corre y nos toca la campana
¿Y vosotros— adónde fueron vuestros hijos?
¿Hemos sido abandonados tal vez?
Mi amada y yo fuimos al pozo,
Pusimos nuestros cántaros boca abajo
y nos sentamos en ellos;
Suspiramos y esperamos – esperamos, suspiramos
Traducción al español: Lidia García Garay
. . .
ZP Editor’s note:
I wrote the two poems above at the request of Kate Castelo, a friend who lives in Vancouver. She was involved in a climate-change awareness initiative in British Columbia in the autumn of 2010, and “engaged” poetry reflecting on global development, pollution, and natural resource use/abuse, was sought by the organizers. The Kyoto Protocol was much in the news five years ago, and every issue is still current and of great concern. My second poem (“Water Sonnet”) I composed in a lovely traditional metre which contrasts all the more with the poem’s theme: Canada’s longstanding cultural tradition of taking Water for granted. My translation mentor, Lidia García Garay, kindly created a Spanish version of the poem…
The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty extending the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that commits State Parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the premise that A. Global Warming does exist, and that B. Man-made CO2 Emissions have caused it.
The Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in December of 1997, and entered into force in February of 2005. There are currently 192 Parties (Canada withdrew, effective December 2012) to the Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol implemented the objective of the UNFCCC to fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to “a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” (Article 2). It is based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities: it puts the obligation to reduce current emissions on developed countries on the basis that they are historically responsible for the current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Negotiations were held in Lima in 2014 to agree on a post-Kyoto legal framework that would obligate all major polluters to pay for CO2 emissions. China, India, and the United States have all signaled that they will not ratify any treaty that will commit them legally to reduce CO2 emissions.
. . .
Other Earth Day features at Zócalo Poets:
. . . . .
Chaparrones de abril (09 abril 2015)
Bien. Llega la primavera, después de este invierno de un largo exorbitante.
Y está lloviendo – mucha lluvia, aunque queda frío el tiempo.
Pronto veramos nuestra primera verdura, ¿no?
Y es lo mismo en el corazón…
Ahora comprendo esa certeza en el fondo de mi alma:
que el Amor sobrevive, en su poder – su energía dinámica;
y que aparece, súbitamente, de su sueño invernal.
Baja duro la lluvia, y lo requiere el corazón; está sediento mi ser.
El Amor debe crecer: siendo vivo – grande-simple – es su solo motivo.
. . .
April Showers (09-04-2015)
Spring’s arriving, after a winter of such exorbitant length.
And it’s raining, how it’s raining!, even though the temperature’s still chilly.
Soon we’ll be seeing our first green, right?
And it’s the same in our heart…
Now I understand that faith in the deep of me – my soul:
that Love survives in all its power, in all its dynamic force;
and that It appears again – so suddenly – from its winter dream-sleep.
The rain falls hard, and that’s what the heart requires; my whole being thirsts.
Love wants to grow: to feel alive – grand and simple – is its sole reason.
. . .
. . . . .
The etchings of José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) demonstrated a worldview that was, and often still is, profoundly Mexican. A commercial illustrator who also printed political broadsides, Posada invented the ‘calavera’ portrait. Calavera means skull, and by extension, skeleton. Aspects of the nation’s Indigenous heritage (skulls and death-goddesses were central to Aztec and Maya cultures) plus its Spanish cultural inheritance (death-oriented monastic orders, the ‘dance of death’ and ‘memento mori’ traditions) combine in Posada’s rustic yet sophisticated prints to give us the flavour of the average Mexican’s stoical yet humorous appreciation of Death.
A Sincere Tale for The Day of The Dead :
“ Lady Catrina goes for a stroll / Doña Catrina da un paseo ”
“¡ Santa Mictecacihuatl !
These Mandible Bone-nix (Manolo Blahniks) weren’t meant for
The Long Haul – certainly not worth the silver I shelled out for ’em ! ”
Thus spoke that elegant skeleton known as La Catrina.
And she clunked herself down at the stone curb, kicking off the
jade-encrusted, ocelot-fur-trimmed high-heel shoes.
“ Well, I haven’t been ‘bone-foot’ like this since I was an escuincle. ”
She chuckled to herself as she began rummaging through her Juicy handbag.
Extracting a shard of mirror, she held it up to her face – a calavera
with teardrop earrings grinned back at her. ¡Hola, Preciosa!
she said to herself with quiet pride. She adjusted her necklace of
cempasúchil blossoms and smoothed her yellow-white-red-and-black
Just then a lad and lassie crossed her path…
“ Yoo-hoo, Young Man, Young Woman !
Be dears, would you both, and escort an old dame
across La Plaza de la Existencia ! My feet are simply
worn down to the bone ! ”
“ Certainly, madam – but we’re new here…
Where is La Plaza de la Existencia ? ”
“ We’re just at the edge of it – El Zócalo ! ”
And La Catrina gestured beyond them where an
immense public square stretched far and wide.
She clasped their hands – the Young Man on her left,
the Young Woman on her right – and the trio set out
across a sea of cobbles…
By the time they reached the distant side of the Plaza the
Young Man and Young Woman had shared much with the
calaca vivaz – their hopes, fears, sadness and joy – their Lives.
The Woman by now had grown a long, luxurious
silver braid and The Man a thick, salt-and-pepper
beard. Both knew they’d lived fully – and were satisfied.
But my… – they were tired !
In the company of the strange and gregarious Catrina 5 minutes
to cross The Zócalo had taken 50 years…
“ Doña Catrina, here we are at your destination – will you be
alright now ? ”
“ Never felt better, Kids ! I always enjoy charming company
on a journey ! ” And she winked at them, even though she had
no eyeballs – just sockets. “ Join me for a caffè-latte? Or a café-pulque,
if you’re lactose-intolerant ! ”
“Thank you, no,” said the Man and Woman, in unison.
And both laughed heartily, breathed deeply, and sat down
at the curb.
When they looked up, Doña Catrina had clattered gaily out of sight.
And before their eyes the vast Zócalo became peopled with
scenes from their Lives.
The Man and Woman smiled, then sighed contentedly. And, side by side, they leaned closer together – and died.
* finis *
Alexander Best – November 2nd, 2011
Mictecacihuatl – Aztec goddess of the AfterLife, and Keeper of The Bones
La Catrina – from La Calavera Catrina (The Elegant Lady-Skull),
a famous zinc etching by Mexican political cartoonist and print-maker
Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913). Posada’s “calavera” prints depict
society from top to bottom – even the upper-class woman of wealth –
La Catrina – must embrace Death, just like everyone else…
She has since become a “character”,
invented and re-invented, for The Day of The Dead (Nov.2nd).
escuincle – little kid or street urchin
calavera – skull
¡Hola, Preciosa! – Hello, Gorgeous!
cempasúchil – marigold (the Day of The Dead flower)
huipil – blouse or dress, Mayan-style
El Zócalo – the main public square (plaza mayor) in Mexico City,
largest in The Americas
calaca vivaz – lively skeleton
pulque – a Mexican drink make from fermented
agave or maguey – looks somewhat like milk
Poema para Diwali
Abran las ventanas, abran las puertas
– ¡llega Diwali est’anochecer!
Ignorancia –¡esfúmate! – ¡Comprensión nacerá!
Ofrezcan gran Luz con lámparas de aceite,
y entonen el mantra que Laksmí entre.
Ganesha, también, veneramos este día,
y la exaltada Kali con su intensa manera.
Se desmaterializa Desesperanza y Esperanza se consolida;
y triunfa Bondad, no Mal.
Niños lanzan sus barcos-papel y flotan llamas en arroyos y charcos,
pues explotan petardos – un gozo ‘chamaco’ –
y todo que pasa celebra La Luz
esta noche de luna nueva.
Mis compañeras se apuntan Diwali
– aquí en Toronto, Canadá.
Merle y Kasturie; Suba, Nanthini
– de Trinidad y de Sri Lanka.
Mezclando comida, familia, amigos y diversión,
El Diwali – como Cinco de Mayo – es la fecha de reunión.
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