Two Poems by Esthela Calderón from Soplo de corriente vital (2008)

translated by 
The Flower and the Hummingbird (En español)   The Flower and the Hummingbird           

¡Tengo un colibrí! 
dijo la flor.

Me envuelve con su fino pico
y su hiriente lengua.

Me sacude con el batir incansable de sus alas.
Palpito en su apurado corazón.
Duermo sobre las alturas 
de su bosque.

Yo, flor,
descanso 
en la brillantez cegadora
de sus plumas.

Mi colibrí
se lanza sobre el campanario de mi cuerpo.
Deshoja los pétalos de mi carne. 
Me inventa una canción 
con la música de sus ojos fijos 
y la fiereza de su vuelo.

Recorre el jardín.

Entra y sale 
entre las veredas floridas, 
buscando el abismo
de las hieles de la miel.

Muere y nace
en el mundo escarchado
de mi polen.

 

“I have a hummingbird!”
said the flower.

He wraps me in his fine beak
and his wounding tongue.

Shakes me with the tireless beating of his wings.
I pulse in his rushing heart.
Sleep on the heights 
of his forest.

As a flower, 
I rest
on the blinding brightness
of his plumage.

My hummingbird
hurls himself against the bell tower of my body.
Rips petals from my flesh.
Invents a song
with the music of his unblinking eyes
and the fierceness of his flight.

He flies through the garden.

Comes and goes
among the flowered paths,
searching for the abyss
of bitter honey.

He dies and is reborn
where frost falls, covering the world
of my pollen. 
  

Jiñocuajo Tree (En español) Jiñocuajo Tree

Me he pasado, cargando cicatrices porque sí. 
Ellas son los besos cortantes 
que buscan la carne suave de mi espalda, 
roja carne,
verde carne, 
carne, lechosa carne,
sangre granulada,
viva sangre, caudal contento en lo calado,
herida de machete en la herida,
vida purificada desde toda entraña.

Por los siglos de los siglos,
indio-esclavo moribundo,
renaciendo entre las púas.

Agradezco la tortura.
Nací sumiso, plantado en el camino.
 
Desde aquí, bendigo cada golpe.
Soy humo vital que regresa por su historia
en el chorrear amargo de mis felices lágrimas 
para glorificar los cantos y oraciones 
en el altar de los templos 
donde una Dolorosa junta sus manos  
y Dios hecho hombre 
redentoramente expira.

I’ve gone through life bearing scars, just because.
They’re the cutting kisses
that seek the soft flesh of my back,
red flesh,
green flesh,
flesh, milky flesh,
granulated blood,
living blood, flowing with joy from each slice,
machete wound within the wound,
life purified at gut level.

Forever and ever
a dying Indian slave,
born again among barbs.

Grateful for the torture,
I was born submissive, planted on the side of the road.

From here, I bless each blow I get.
I’m vital incense, returning through history
in the bitter dripping of happiness, my tears.
I glorify the cantos and prayers
on the altar of temples 
where Our Lady of Sorrow joins her hands
and God made man
expires to redeem us.

 

Translations from the Spanish
By Steven F. White

Esthela Calderón (b. 1970, Nicaragua) is the author of Soledad (2002), which won the Juegos Florales Centroamericanos prize; Amor y conciencia (2004), and Soplo de Corriente vital: poemas etnobotánicos(2008). She also wrote a novel set during the 1979 Nicaraguan insurrection, 8 caras de una moneda (2006), co-authored Culture and Customs of Nicaragua (2008), and is currently general coordinator of the municipal theater in León, Nicaragua.

Steven F. White is finishing an ecocritical study of Nicaraguan poetry. He translated Seven Trees against the Dying Light by Pablo Antonio Cuadra and The Angel of Rain by Cuban Gastón Baquero and is the co-author of Ayahuasca Reader. His most recent book of poetry is Bajo la palabra de las plantas (poesía selecta: 1979–2009). He teaches Latin American lierature at St. Lawrence University.

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