Those Who Are Leaving

translated by David Frye
A black and white photo of the sea, dark clouds looming overhead, with the horizon forming the only light between them
Photo: Lucas Poisson / Flickr​​

No two ways about it, they leave
heading out toward night.
a coastal patrol will look for them,
get no reply. Up above,
the stars, with nothing to say.
And our long waiting,
in its monotonous pace,
will not hold back this nightmare.
For hours now, we’ve seen them face
      to face
across the grating of an imagined
Ink rains from the sky.
They leave. They leave.
Something is about to be born.
They leave. They leave,
with larvae, with mice, with sea
They leave. They leave.
Something is about to die.

Translation from the Spanish

Nancy Morejón (b. 1944, Havana) is a beloved elder poet, essayist, journalist, and translator. The first Afro-Cuban allowed to seek a degree in Cuba, she quickly rose to national prominence as Poet Laureate, president of the Writers’ Union, member of the Academia Cubana de la Lengua, and senior adviser for Casa de las Américas and Teatro Nacional de Cuba.

David Frye teaches anthropology at the University of Michigan. His translations from Spanish range from Lazarillo de Tormes to contemporary poetry by Nancy Morejón and speculative fiction by Elia Barceló.