Poem with Citation

translated by Yvette Siegert

I propose, my love, to be for you the surface
to be but body for your eyes
to be but rhythm for your tongue
and information for your net.
– Myriam Moscona

Walter Benjamin says there is a sphere of human understanding
that is inaccessible to violence: the true and proper sphere
of self-understanding, which is the tongue.
I question Walter Benjamin, reluctantly.
Zealously I have heard how your mouth can make the world be born again,
how it names with precision what had seemed to me but the awkward stirring of some
bewildered butterfly. And I have loved you in the dark revelation of the word as if you were a god.
As for me,
the stories I have spun for you would be the envy of Scheherazade,
and I have wanted to make you love me by laying out the trap of this poem.
Yet here we are,
entangled like old theologians debating over poor minutiæ in their search for access to heaven.
They have forgotten
we have forgotten
how the universe’s shapeless chatter burst from a magma of silence
to distract us from god, from fear –
how in your marrow, in my marrow, beyond the fires and the heavy storms,
all that is left is silence.
Trace your fingers along my surface, love, where you will find my depths.
And I will place my ear against your chest to hear the rhythm of the rumbling earth.

Translation from the Spanish

Piedad Bonnett (b. 1951), one of Colombia’s most celebrated writers, has been widely recognized as a leading voice in contemporary Latin American poetry. She is the author of several award-winning collections, including Los habitados (The haunted, 2016) and the highly acclaimed Lo que no tiene nombre (That which has no name, 2013).

Yvette Siegert is a Latinx poet, translator, and Ledbury Critic currently completing a doctorate in Colombian literature and intellectual history at Merton College, University of Oxford. As a translator she has been a finalist for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation and winnner of the Best Translated Book Award.