Four Esther Ramón Poems Translated from the Spanish by Emma Ferguson

Translator’s Note

These poems are selected from Esther Ramón’s book Morada (Dwelling), published by Calambur (Barcelona) in 2015. In Dwelling, Ramón organizes the poems in three sections, and does not title the individual poems. I have used the first lines of the poems to function as titles for convenience. The section titles in the book are Excavation, Speed, and Water Stone. The poems included here are from the first section, Excavation.

BENEATH THE TILES 
the spiders nest, 
the sandy beds of the partridges 
are still warm,
their parasites still scurrying, 
the root of the hawthorn
that recovers its voice 
in the murmur
of invading bees, 
and no one else listens. 
We can’t forget 
the subfloor
we can’t explore 
its domes of earth
riding on ants
at a gallop
sucked in by the landing, 
accelerated suddenly, 
speed in the hind quarters 
of the dark. 
In its windows, 
in its submerged 
lagoons, 
looking at eyes
without opening them, 
in the sudden swerve 
in the whistle of flute,
of snake,
someone walks 
and eyelids cover us, 
someone spreads
sheets, 
folds them again, 
and in the drawers 
only mouths 
that open, 
that shift the weight 
of empty trays,
right here, under 
these tiles
so then— how do we walk 
around the house, 
with what slowness, 
with what boots 
(with nails
that pierce 
both the earth and the foot 
that hits it)
how do we recognize 
the thin track of seeds, 
and not step on it, 
how can we reach the end of the hall 
a row of closets stacked with linens, so white, 
without staining them, 
how can one clutch 
the knife and not tear 
the veils and curtains, 
how could you see 
that hare ambushed 
and fire with such 
precision 
we forget, 
it’s cold, 
we leave the windows 
open, the walls 
open 
perhaps the memory 
of the marble table, 
the doves strung up 
no, it was the vapor, 
its hare’s breath 
sending signals 
palpitating 
how can we walk 
without damaging
the foundations 
how to skin it, 
how to bury it. 
 
THEIR WOOL HEADS 
disperse the stones 
of the refuge. 
Growing holes, 
lengthening in the tunnel 
a white moss 
takes over a blossom, 
takes the weight of snow 
upon that 
blossom, 
its color of dirty sheep 
pushing stones, 
without reading the signs, 
the date falling off, 
the sickly green 
of the creek, 
the blue separated 
from the water 
in the erroneous 
execution of the drawing. 
Solitary sheep 
like wolves, 
hungry, 
like wolves, 
trying to drive them away 
they get lost, 
there is no shelter, 
there is no flock, 
one for every
stone. 


TO FIND IT, 
follow the signs, 
you make them out of firewood, 
the limestone ropes, 
the cuts on the 
trunks, 
the tarnished loins, 
the steaming dung, 
the verses, the rocks 
spread out, 
tune it, 
without the chorus of voices 
you must imagine it opened, 
imagine the partitions 
without edges, 
the still-straight angle
of the living 
upon the flexible floor 
of the dead, feel 
the needle plunging 
in the flesh, 
like water, 
then be that 
needle 
and the fragments 
it reunites
in order to go in, 
wearing only one shape, 
one piece, 
in the advancing 
or passing of thread, 
say yes, 
be one of the heads 
that nods shaved, 
and an aroma that spreads 
through the hair 
through the buckets of rice 
through the musical carpet 
through the flasks, 
inside the bedroom 
and nothing burns 
proceed to the corral 
of desire that fulfills 
and desire it, 
bodyless since it trembles, 
desire it.   
 

THE PULSE STARTS UP AGAIN 
and no one understands it,
the edges stretch 
again
the shape that delays 
in presence,
the slowed purpose 
of the species, 
not understanding 
this vertical fasting, 
inverted legs, 
head down, arms 
behind the back
the sections of wire 
with such brief balance, 
with the mouth open, 
slack 
don’t light the candles 
yet, 
difficult to breathe in this 
swollen body, 
the pavement is strewn 
with flour and berries 
so round,
some gather them 
and take photos, 
they can only leave, 
where no one enters 
they domesticate 
their landslides, 
twisting beyond reality,
the red marks 
on the face, 
on the lips, 
they chewed on an insect 
and in doing so 
they are covered with 
a blanket of moss, 
a grainy skin, 
someone demands 
they cut the sail,
it tumbles, 
growing cold over 
another shape, 
in the absence, 
as it falls.   

About the Translator

Emma Ferguson is a poet and translator, and teaches Spanish in Seattle, Washington. Her poems appear in the River Heron Review and The Bookends Review. She has translations forthcoming from Los Angeles Review

About the Author

Esther Ramón is the author of nine volumes of poetry and is a professor of comparative literature and literary criticism at Universidad Carlos III in Madrid. She has been coordinating editor of Minerva literary magazine and has directed audio poetry programming at Radio Círculo, among other projects.

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