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Lalomanu Jorge Salavert

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Copyright © Jorge Salavert 2010 Published by Jorge Salavert, Amaroo, ACT 2914 All translations from the Spanish and Catalan are the author’s. First published 2010

To my daughter Clea, in memoriam

ISBN: 978-0-646-53089-5 Cover design by Maria Vidal Photographs © Anthea Wykes and Carolyn Green Typeset by Maria Vidal Printed in Canberra by CanPrint Pty Ltd

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Contents Preamble: The Polaroid (3rd January 2003)

page 9

Part I: At Lalomanu

page 11

“…there are no second chances in a universe

Part II: The haikus

page 29

Which must get on with the business of living”

Part III: The homecoming

page 47


page 75

Peter Porter, ‘Talking to you afterwards’ “Those people who do not like to associate with death were soon keeping clear… Who were going about as if nothing had happened. […] So the death-shy began to flicker their eyelids up at the bereaved. They even came out and did good turns to those who absolved them from the embarrassment of sympathising.” Patrick White, The Tree of Man “… me desperté oliendo a menta sobre arena mojada y sal …” Ojos de Brujo, ‘Nueva Vida’


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Preamble The Polaroid (3rd January 2003) Against an aseptic maternity-ward background He holds her tiny hand While he looks up smiling at the flash; The Polaroid slits his happy eyes and captures The greying hairy blur around his mouth, A paling purple polo shirt – his wife’s birthday present from a few years back – And the early January tan that the ruthless Australian sun Gives those who grow beans, carrots or tomatoes In a backyard garden. He looks a happy man despite his many struggles, Despite the long hours of driving and the stress. He holds her minuscule body wrapped in a white hospital cotton blanket, And knows those tiny hands are a cherished treasure for him: They’re a promise of lasting love and laughter, They’re a pledge of long days and nights, of songs, of fun-making by the swing. They hold a future he can look forward to: A giggling girl who will laugh at his tongue-twisting wordplay, A devoted daughter who he will walk on his back while he tells her the stories Of faraway lands, of placenames like Morella, San Pedro de Atacama or Nam, Of so many people she will never get to meet.


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I - At Lalomanu


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On Lalomanu Beach

Beautiful hues of surrounding green and blue, An inviting golden sand. The soothing breeze blows under the Samoan sun: Peace is close at hand. The horizon is a white line of reef and surf, Fish come near the shore, Twisting and zigzagging curiously around their feet. Sunlight brightens their spirits, the sea enlightens the life in them, The hill stands majestic, an idyllic backdrop of lushness and mystery. Three noisy children are gathered around him and his sandcastle. He can’t keep up with their demands, For they keep coming back for more. As they grab these wet sand balls, They hurry to the water shrieking: “¡Mi pelota!” Giggling, they drop them, they let them go. The sand vanishes into the ocean, His eyes melt into dreams of love.


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Sonnet #1

Skipping on the seashore

Her hazel eyes hold a firm grip on him.

She’s skipping on the seashore.

She’s the flesh of his flesh, her loving child.

The gentle sunlight of the early morning kisses her

This is his true love, not the transient whim

As she follows the giant’s footprints ahead.

When in frenzy lustful bodies go wild.

His furtive peep at the horizon, While the ballerina skips on this mild ground

Her skin has tanned under the Samoan sun.

That was shaking five minutes earlier.

The silk-gentle breeze stirs her wet black hair,

Shells are shining on her as she chases his tempo and giggles again

A kind sea, the mellow sands, all the fun

At this perfect synchronicity: father and child

A lovely six-year-old can have is there.

Exultingly living life.

Yet deep below dark forces are at play.

Yet the horizon arches: an invisible arrow is cutting through

The earth will dislodge itself and rumble,

His unknowing heart.

Pushing a wall of water the next day.

It’s their last walk together, On foreign soil, on a mysterious island

These hellish waters will swirl and tumble,

Where Stevenson imagined pirates and hidden coves,

A beast of doom, it is about to slay

A land of precipitous ridges and lushness,

His true love, his child; his heart will crumble.

Full of emerald eyes and bluish sea-dazzles. For death is rushing towards them. Soon the dark waters will be cruel and brutal, The seashore will vanish, The sky will seem oddly dislodged. All that superb azure will be tarnished, And dreadfully dark waters will be dumping death on her.


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The monster For Jordi Salavert

He was running, running, running

My five-year-old told me

Running for his life

Of how he saw the monster coming:

Fleeing the beast of white-toothed darkness

He said it had white teeth and that it rushed on us

Past the palm trees and the little pigs

While we were running for the hill.

Past the modest house at the edge of the village

It was a water-wall of devastation

Past the taro plants at his feet

Engulfing us in less than a second,

Running, running, running yet holding his son’s hand

Tossing us around,

Unable to look back, too scared to look back and stare at approaching death.

Hurling the destroyed Lalomanu fales against our backs and legs, Thrashing our lives in little less than two minutes.

The Samoan woman lay on the ground, in clear distress. In her eyes was a beseeching look yet the ultimate peacefulness

I should be looking after my five-year-old:

Of those who know their time is up.

Keeping all those white-toothed monsters away

Her crying, her wailing made him stop:

From his dreams, from his future.

He briefly looked at her and into her eyes

One day I’ll have to explain to him that the water beast

Powerless, unable to help, paralysed by fear

Would have taken him away,

As the water fell on their world, tearing it all apart:

Could have taken me away,

the home, the lives, the peace, the happiness

But chose instead to take

They once had.

His big sister.


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The killing water

Untitled For Brody Butt

The sea arches over the reef,

Six years and nine months amount not to a long life,

Not the gentle giant you might think.

Yet the endless love she gave him during that brief time

Death is galloping towards them, riding

Is as vast as the sea surrounding this fateful isle.

The white foam of the water, Opening its dark jaws,

Hers was a wonderful, so loving, full-of-joy smile.

Readying to swallow and tumble.

Infectious giggles, a supple stubbornness inside. Grief has raided his heart - the intruder with a scythe

The roar paralyses all. There is only an instant of powerless resolve:

Slashing down the promise of tenderness and care

Love cannot outrun the killing water.

In his old age. He can feel the pulsating pain, bare,

Soon they’ll be fighting to stay afloat.

The fear of a forlorn future, an infinite scare.

Months later, they’ll be struggling to forget the lot. Now there is only a daily dose of odious pain: The absence, the emptiness, the unfillable space, An unbearable sadness, a self that has been slain.


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La terra li l’ha furtada

The earth has stolen her from him

Somniava ell amb un futur acollidor a la vellesa,

He dreamt of a kindly future in his old age

Amb dies de llargs passejos agafat de la seva mà.

Of days of long walks holding her hand,

Recordant les bromes i les cançons, els petons i els empipaments

Remembering the jokes and the songs, the kisses and the fights.

De quan ella era la seva babita, la seva xiqueta.

When she was his babita, his little girl

Però la Terra li l’ha furtada cruelment.

But Earth has cruelly stolen her from him.

Comptava amb la segura promesa

He counted on the certain promise

Del seu somriure, de l’afecte dels seus ulls avellana.

Of her smiles, of the affection in her hazel eyes.

Però va tremolar la Terra a una platja molt llunyana,

But Earth trembled on a faraway beach,

I un monstre d’ullals blancs els va agafar amb la seva gargamella,

And a white-fanged monster grabbed them in its jaws

Els va tombar dins les aigües tenebroses d’una voràgine negra.

And tumbled them in the dark waters of a black vortex.

La Terra ha capgirat el seu present sense presència,

Earth has altered his presence-less present,

Li ha furtat el seu demà més benvolgut sense clemència,

Has robbed of his most cherished tomorrow mercilessly,

I ara ell plora, plora amb el cor partit

And now he cries, he cries broken-hearted,

Plora perquè el punyal del destí li ha ferit

Cries because the knife of destiny has stabbed


His soul.


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The void

At 45

For Gustavo Rivera

He does not speak his language

At forty-five years of age

As often as he used to.

He has been left

Words are left in a vacuum, unheard


In her empty purple room, where only her Barbie doll keeps smiling these days.

In a strange land

Mornings bring back echoes of now painful giggles,

In a random act of nature

Of a youthful voice full of life and promise, calling out ‘¡Papá!’

and cruelty

Silence makes its presence felt in the dewy dawn The built-in wardrobe hides pink secrets and playful moments of love

At forty-five years of age

He feels lost for words

behind its closed doors.

He lost more than his own language He stands there, inmóvil, sensing the void, the futility,

In the killing whirl of water:

The huge gap in his life

He lost his loving daughter, a giggly girl skipping on his footprints

A massive mountain of murderous water has made.

on a beautiful distant beach At forty-five Waking up to his nightmare Has become the nightmare itself The light of dawn is a harbinger of horror Sadness sinks in his heart, though he wishes he’d sunk in the water As the sun brings him another day of pain At forty-five years of age He feels the future may have left him behind He has been left a broken heart In a silent purple room Plastic letters on a fridge and pictures Of much happier times


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Lalomanu sunrise

Amid the blue, the yellow and the green, Lalomanu wakes up to another day. The ocean casts its glorious sheen, A gentle breeze salutes and finds its way Around svelte palm trees. Paradise cannot be far from here, An eerie place girt by the seas. There can be nothing to fear. Yet as the sun was rising in the east, The ground, the sands, fiercely shook Unleashing a ravenous beast. It rushed across an emptiness of blue-green water Charging deadly towards the shores. A brutal sea-tongue, full of force, a slaughter Wiped out their lives with a grisly roar. My loved one, my loving daughter, Was one of the many children it took.


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Red hearts on paper For my friends at 3 Liversidge Street Mi babita, my little darling baby, You were not given enough time To learn all those little menial tasks That make life such a tedious yet joyful affair. Like learning to tie up your own shoelaces, Or how to spread butter on your morning toast. Mamรก would cut up your dinner Into smaller pieces, bite by bite, bit by bit, for you to eat, The way your school teachers had taught you To join the letters to make the sounds that were words

for you to read.

You learned to draw big loving hearts and paint them red. They are now mementoes holding despair and stabbing sorrow. I pinned those red hearts you drew for me Above the office phone: your call of love. They are now painful remnants of a winter day, You were sick at breakfast time. Playfully you peeped into the mysterious world Of a staff meeting, your smile beaming at us. Winter reigned, yet your warmth was present.


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What’s in a name? For Carla and Marcel Bruch Salavert Her parents always thought hers was a name Full of honey-sweet promise, sky-blue hope, That she’d be able to walk the tightrope Of life. For their daughter, they craved not fame Or unmerited honour or praise. Seeing her grow was sufficient for them, For time would polish their beautiful gem, She’d certainly make good their old-age days.

II. The Haikus

Now they have instead an untold story. There is only grief, pain, a feeling of loss That could well make anyone feel sorry. At dawn with tear-strained eyes they look across The sky and wonder why should they worry. What was in her name? One’s fate no one knows.


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A long golden strip Edged by coconut palm trees: Here’s Lalomanu.


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The tremor

Tsunami (1)

For a whole minute

The water roaring,

The world was shaking ‘round them:

A huge monster from the deep:

It brought them the beast.

A ravenous beast.


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Tsunami (2)


On the horizon

No air in his lungs,

A white-rimmed water mountain:

He’s swallowing the water:

Harbinger of death.

He is all panic.


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The clutch

The silence

The boy clutches on

They’re yelling her name

With all the might and life he has:

In vain over the water:

The clutch of terror.

Around them, silence.


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He wades through water

Bugs climb to safety.

He’s looking for pink submerged:

In the darkest of waters,

The silence is death.

His head is the isle.


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The aftermath

January 1, 2010

Far from the seashore

A new year begins

Lies a dead-eyed blue reef fish:

The same unbearable pain

Innocent victim.

Remains in his heart.


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The heart is broken.

Such a foolish world:

This emptiness is endless:

There’s only pain, sorrow, grief.

Death could be welcome.

Bring on the comet!


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La sirenita

The future lies far:

She loved the water.

Hope is a word fraught with fear

The sea rushed inland, drowned her.

Death can kill promise.

Our little mermaid.


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His grief is the plague. Pain is too raw to handle. Silence prevails.

III. The Homecoming


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The homecoming

A black Commonwealth car leaves them at the driveway. Almost three weeks ago five of them departed, But only four are returning home. Insides crumble when they open the door, And every step inside brings a stab. The luggage is lighter, their hearts are heavier. The silence sounds as dreadful as the roaring water they still cannot remember. Her photograph stares at their tears.


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A di fferent sadness

Sonnet #2

For Omar Salavert

For Trudie

There is a different sadness

Every new day prolongs the painful torture.

In realising that the $30 Family Pack from Fortune Box

Life was never meant to become so cruel,

Has suddenly become too large for them:

Being deprived of the most beautiful jewel

Dim sims and spring rolls travel round the table

Of a child, the sweetest fruit of their orchard.

(they could be like Rossi and Lorenzo at Phillip Island)

Endlessly this pain comes back for more

Stolen by the sea on a distant beach,

Eyes strain in this blinding darkness of grief.

The monster tried to kill all of his kin, He can’t recall the deadly water’s din,

Morning brings the cruel curse of memory

All he knows is, the hill was beyond reach.

The nightmarish silence that followed their shouts The emptiness, the unbearable emptiness of this purple bedroom

His morning may begin well before dawn;

A doll’s house no one has played with for more than two months

The silence terrifies him, yet he’ll walk

A calendar from Samoa forever stuck in September

Out into the darkness, across the lawn.

The books, the sweetly painted plates and cups, the joyless window Looking out to red and pink roses that will be cut on a Sunday

The heart weighs him down, heavy as a rock:

Only to travel down the road and be placed in a jar

Caught in the hands of fate a feeble pawn,

that used to hold Spanish black olives

Hardly the man to whom you’d wish to talk.

but now holds a faint tribute to beauty

There can be no solace, no comfort, no consolation: The shadows fall across dawn and bring back the grisly grief – lying awake with


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eyes shut


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For Miguel Teruel Me dices que te cuente algo,

You write, tell me something

Y tengo tanto que contar

And I have so much to tell,

Contarte que su ausencia es un desgarro eterno

To tell you her absence is a never-ending tearing

Que el silencio me sobrecoge a las cuatro y media de la mañana

That silence crushes me at 4:30 am

Que no consigo recordar el rugido del agua que se la llevó

That I cannot recall the roar of the water that took her away

Que quien esta historia escribió se ha burlado cruel

That whoever wrote this story is cruelly laughing at me

Que el mañana ha perdido su fulgor

That the future has lost its glow

Que me siento robado

That I feel I have been robbed

Que el comer se ha convertido en acto reflejo y sin goce alguno

That eating has become a reflex unexciting act

Que este gintonic me sabe a agua gaseosa

That this gin and tonic tastes like lemonade

So much to tell, indeed

Tanto que contar, ya lo creo

Que sus hermanos no quieren salir al jardín sin ella

That her brothers won’t go out to the backyard without her

O que ya va haciendo calor – 40ºC en Adelaida –

Or that it’s getting hot – 40ºC in Adelaide –

Que zozobro cada vez que veo su sonrisa, en cada pared de esta casa, su casa

That I founder every time I see her smile, on every wall of this house, her home

Que la habitación vacía me rompe el alma al despertar

That the empty room shatters my soul on waking up

Que me han quitado un pedazo de mi vida

That a big chunk of my life is gone

Sin previo aviso, sin motivo alguno

Without notice, for no apparent reason

Tengo tanto que contar

I have so much to tell

Tanto, que podría gritar o aullar

So much that I might scream or howl

Tanta tristeza que me ahogo al no poder darle salida

So much sadness that I choke when I cannot voice it

Tanto que contar o que callar

So much to tell or keep silent about

No sé ni siquiera con qué empezar.

Don’t even know what to start with.


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Seven candles

Sand in your ears

For María Soledad Pinedo

For Trudie

It is the saddest day:

Many weeks later, after September,

Mamá has made cup cakes with pink icing,

At your local medical centre,

Just like last year,

Thousands of miles away

Sprinkled with the fantasy of the hundreds and the thousands.

From the beach the sea razed that day,

At breakfast Papá has made torrijas, and played the old joke upon your brothers,

Your GP discovers you still have it:

Who have in unison exclaimed “¡Son para todos!”.

All these fine, microscopic bits,

We’re going to the movies today:

Minute traces of the deadly water.

We’ll see one of those princess-meets-prince stories, your favourite ones.

Death left a note while it was taking your daughter.

We have some flowers too,

And so you’re told that inside your ears

Popcorn, pretzels, chips and lemonade.

There‘s some Samoan coral, some unwanted souvenirs

The evening will bring some darkness and we will light sparkles,

You didn’t declare to the quarantine officials.

Your name will be drawn with fire.

Luckily the matter will not become judicial.

Everything’s ready for your birthday, mi vida,

The white sands of Lalomanu are now part of you:

Yet you will not be here to blow

It shows what a narrow escape it was for your boys and yourself, too.

The seven candles you deserved.

The killing water pushed it in there for you not to forget The day the sea spun you about like a puppet.


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Afraid of grief For Carolyn Green

Everyday I see your two brothers growing, growing:

The telephone sits quietly by the table where she would draw and paint.

Their bodies grow into bodies of future men

Gone are the days when her squeals and giggles filled the place.

Their minds grow into minds of inquisitive boys

Many are the children picture books nobody opens these days:

Their love grows into the kind of love I long for

Els Tres Porquets, Cenicienta, Sleeping Beauty, many others just as quaint.

Their games grow into the games sons play Their eyes look into my eyes and probe my soul

After dark, he walks around, stopping to listen as if he were a thief.

They grow curious about this and other worlds

Yet the phone won’t ring; it stays silent – no one dares to make the call.

Their needs expand further, but not beyond what’s standard.

Some sort of hope lies by the takeaway menu on which she used to scrawl. The minutes, the hours tick by until it’s bedtime: are they afraid of his grief?

Everyday I cry for all the growing you will not do: Everyday I cry for all this love of yours we lost Everyday I look in the mirror and I see a man forlorn, Ageing, broken, not knowing what to do.


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Up and down MacDonald Street

A curse

Up and down MacDonald Street or along windswept Waroo Road,

Let all those who imbibed in her backyard

He would carry her on a backpack, happily chatting or singing to her,

And laughed and joked or were simply merry

Or simply inhaling the crisp clean air of Ngunnawal country.

Be cursed. Some care or warmth? It was too hard!

She would squeeze his ears and squeal with sheer delight

Just minutes after having her buried,

At his faked groans of put-on pain.

A few of her own mother’s so-called friends

Two tender years with lots and lots of love.

Stood around, full wineglasses in their hands,

She giggled and babbled and gurgled and prattled

While they were then struggling to comprehend

The sweet incoherence of an as yet undefined language

Their sad loss: her death in a foreign land.

Words possessing an uncanny adoration, the sort of idolisation A daughter has for her father.

Harrowed eyes met by cowardly silence, Hearts subtly ignored: the too hard basket.

On such days he would imagine her making a proud journey,

A mark of these people’s self-indulgence.

Lovingly holding a casket with his ashes,

‘The question’s too dreadful, do not ask it’.

To be scattered perhaps at the top of Penyagolosa or someplace

Some soon forgot why they came to their house:

Perhaps a little less ambitious,

Mused over their latest toy, their new car,

The ultimate homage to her dead father,

Unwilling to sense grief, they would not pause

To take him back to his place of birth.

To feel their pain or see their ghastly scars.

Who’d have said they would make the flight back home from Samoa, A coffin inside the guts of a crowded Pacific Blue airliner. It is him who had to bury her In this dry, parched Ngunnawal land, The place where she was born and bred.


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Nada que nadie pueda decir

Nothing anyone might utter

Podrá paliar la inmensidad

Shall alleviate the enormity

De su dolor. No busca vivir:

Of his pain. He does not seek to live:

Se desplomó en un pozo sin paz,

He fell into a peace-less chasm,

Y declama en una lengua estéril.

And speaks in a barren tongue.

Nada en las aguas de la congoja,

He swims across the waters of grief,

Se siente ante el destino muy débil,

And feels frail when facing destiny,

Cual desguarnecida y marchita hoja.

Like a vulnerable, wilted leaf.

Eleva sus sollozos al cielo,

He elevates his weeping to the skies,

Sin buscar respuesta del ocaso.

Not in search of the evening’s response.

Sabe que nunca va a haber consuelo,

He knows there will be never comfort,

Que es el dolor quien le marca el paso.

That it is pain that sets him the pace.

Las palabras, todas traen silencio:

Every word brings him but silence:

Cree que escribe por pasar el rato.

He senses he writes just to kill time.

Paga el precio en cada nuevo verso,

He pays the penalty in every new line,

Deuda de amor a su hija, truncado.

A debt of shattered love for his daughter.


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Quan arribe l’hivern

When winter comes

Filla, molt aviat arribarà l’hivern,

My darling, winter will come very soon,

Encara que el meu cor porta

Even though my heart has been

Gairebé cinc mesos gelat.

Frozen for almost five months.

Les llargues ombres de la tardor cauran

The long shadows of autumn will fall

Damunt la meva trista ànima,

On my disconsolate soul,

I em mossegaran els minuts i les hores,

And will eat away my minutes and my hours;

Em furtaran les lletres de noms imaginats,

They will rob me of the lettering of imagined names,

M’amagaran les paraules dels poemes

They will hide away from me the words of the poems

Que jo voldria escriure’t on no puga trobar-les,

I wish I could write for you, where I cannot find them,

Esborraran les veritats de les cartes

They will erase the truths from the letters

Que t’he escrit confessant-me a les cinc de la matinada.

I’ve written to you confessing myself at five in the morning.

I quan arribe l’hivern, als mesos de juny i juliol, quan el fred

And when winter comes, in June and July, when the cold

I el gebre cobrisquen el món que es representa afora,

And the frost cover the world being acted outside,

Seré jo qui s’amague, fugint de la por que les amistats

I shall be the one who hides away, fleeing from the fear friends

Em tenen; i construiré un niu, per tu i per mi

Have of me; and I will build a lair for the two of us,

Amb les mateixes paraules dels poemes,

With those same words from the poems,

De les cartes amagades, i amb les lletres dels noms imaginaris.

From the letters kept away, with the lettering of those imaginary names.


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Miles and months away

First day of schooling

For Pol Guaita Salavert My dear Pol, el meu nou nebot, this you must know:

They weaved in and around the noisy crowd,

You’ll never get to know your cousin Clea.

Their backpacks were still quite empty.

You will only see her in photographs, forever a six-year-old schoolgirl.

Parents, teachers and senior students

She would have loved to hold you in her arms

Looked at them and said their end-of-holidays hellos,

And sing sweet silly things into your ears.

Conveyed their words of welcome and encouragement.

She would one day have held the bottle for you to drink your milk,

Curious yet scared, these were the new recruits,

She would one day have helped to change your nappy,

The new kindergarten superheroes.

Might have even exclaimed: yuk, ¡Qué asco! She would have looked into your eyes with her own hazel eyes

Later we all sat at the Assembly Hall,

And searched for this something undefinable.

A ritualistic experience for most Was today a rite of passage: the principal’s welcome,

A two-week old boy can never understand

The same old warnings to parents about the car park chaos,

That somewhere in the Pacific Ocean there was this huge submarine rumble,

Which some would ignore just about the next day.

That a mountain of water loomed high above the reef line and rushed

These two looked around and seemed to wonder.

Deadly towards the shore.

Yet it was his mind that wandered.

That the water took her away from you, you who were thousands of miles

He lowered his head,

And a few months away.

And tried to hide his tears from inquisitive gazes. The absence of her giggle was distinctly felt On her brothers’ first day of schooling.


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Quan arribe el meu moment

When my time comes

For Juli Capilla i Fuentes, with infinite gratitude Quan arribe el meu moment, el meu instant fugaç,

When my time, my fleeting instant, comes,

I la teva llum, filla meva, m’il•lumine...

And your light, my darling daughter, illumines me...

Quan les flors que durant tants anys –

When the flowers that for so many years –

Tots els llargs anys d’aquesta vida que, malgrat tot, he de viure –

All the long years of this life that, despite everything, I must live –

Quan eixes flors, us dic, que pense plantar i tallar amb delicadesa

When those flowers, I’m telling you all, which I mean to plant and cut

De pare que banya el seu nadó, florisquen al cel, als núvols o a la mar,

On tu – potser – estigues esperant-me – potser – amb una disfressa,

Of a father bathing his baby, bloom in the sky, in the clouds or in the sea,

Deixaré de plorar i d’amagar-me’n sota del temps les ombres,

Where you – perhaps – may be awaiting me – maybe – dressed up,

Cessaré el meu càntic d’home trencat i afligit,

I shall stop crying and hiding beneath the shadows of time,

Passejaré amb el cap alt, i miraré als ulls les dones i els homes.

I shall stop my singing of a broken, sorrowful man,

Faré callar el silenci que arrosseguen els anys que estic vivint

I shall walk with my head high, and I shall look women and men in the eye.

Sense tu.

I shall quieten the silence dragged by the years I shall be living

Quan arribe eixe moment, quan les estrelles

Without you.

I l’aire de les nits que sempre callen

When that time comes, when the stars

Deixen de jugar amb mi, del destí un trist titella,

And the night air that is always hushed

Tancaré els ulls per veure la teva llum ardent,

Stop toying with me, a sad puppet of destiny,

Respiraré per darrera vegada l’alegria de les teves rialles,

I shall close my eyes so I can see your burning light,

I amb una abraçada, agafats de les mans ballarem

I shall breathe for the last time the joy of your giggling,

Com fa uns anys, en honor de la teva mare.

And with an embrace, holding hands we shall dance

with the delicateness

As we did a few years ago, to honour your mother.


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Fer xixines el silenci

Smash silence into pieces

Nit després de nit s’asseu tot sol

Night after night he sits all alone

Al seu estudi de silenci i temor.

In his studio of silence and fear.

Ell voldria poder deixar el seu dolor

He wishes he could leave his grief

al paper en què escriu, o que la seva pena

In the paper he writes on, or that his sorrow

emprengués el vol,

Took flight,

lluny d’aquest lloc,

Far away from this place,

lluny de la seva tristesa,

Far from his sadness,

més enllà de l’oceà que li va arrabassar

Beyond the ocean that snatched away

els seus somnis de goig al cor.

His dreams of heartfelt happiness.

Ell voldria poder fer de les seves llàgrimes paraules,

He wishes he could make his tears into words,

i arreplegar amb les mans els sanglots

And in his own hands gather his cries,

que deixa caure la seva ànima cada matinada.

The cries his soul releases with every daybreak.

Sent el desig d’obrir-se el cos amb un ganivet de cel

He feels the wish to open up his body with a knife of sky

i d’ombra, i treure’s el dolor profund i etern,

And shadows, and to rip out the deep unending pain,

de fer xixines aquest silenci que mai descansa.

To smash into pieces this silence that never lets up.


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Post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Ha plorat molt, plora i encara li queda per plorar.

He has cried a lot, he still cries and has long to cry yet.

El seu present està sempre ancorat al passat,

His present is forever anchored in the past,

i avui, mentre agafa els plats i els neteja,

and today, as he grabs the plates and washes them up,

alça els ulls i mira cóm cau la tarda,

he has looked up and seen how evening falls,

i la foscor es clava dins el seu cor per la finestra.

and darkness has broken into his heart through the window.

La seva mirada s’extravia, i viatja

His gaze gets lost, and travels

lluny, molt lluny d’aquesta llar

far, very far away from this home

i d’aquestos moments plens d’afers quotidians

and from these moments full of daily affairs

i sense gaire transcendència.

without much significance.

Més enllà de la finestra creu veure

Beyond the window he thinks he can see

una vegada més l’arc de l’aigua.

once again the arc of the water.

És un altre flashback d’horror,

It is yet another flashback of horror,

i el pànic s’apodera d’ell durant dècimes de segon.

and panic takes control of him for some tenths of a second.

Ara mateix podria deixar caure els gots o els plats

He could right now drop the glasses and plates

i tirar a córrer, fugint de la por,

and make off into a run, fleeing from fear,

escapant un altre cop del record,

escaping yet again from the memory,

escapolint-se d’aquest dolor

running away from the pain

en què s’ha convertit la seva vida.

his life has become.

I tanmateix, hi ha dies quan s’asseu esperant

However, there are days when he sits down and waits

una trucada que mai arriba,

for a phone call that never comes,

una mirada que no s’amague al silenci,

for a gaze that does hide within silence,

algú que li escolte plorar

for someone who may listen to his crying

que no siga la seva dona.

other than his own wife.


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I tanmateix, es pregunta si pot ser la veritat

However, he asks himself if it might be true

que ell els siga tan difícil d’escoltar,

that he is too difficult for them to listen to,

si el seu dolor pot ser tan cru que els creme,

if his pain might be so raw that it burns them,

si pot ser que passen els messos sense sentir

if months may go by without him feeling

el recolzament de veus conegudes,

the support of known voices

o els sospirs de la lluna i el sol.

or the sighs of the moon and the sun.

I tanmateix, vol saber quan les ombres del terror

However, he would like to know when the shadows of terror

deixaran de perseguir-lo, quan els records

will stop hounding him, when the memories

dels ullals de l’aigua es fondran

of the water’s fangs will melt

a les sorres daurades de Lalomanu.

into the golden sands of Lalomanu.


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One day, not too distant in time, We’ll be returning to this beach. We will be holding our hands tight, We’ll all walk down the shore to reach The place where we last heard your voice. The two of us, and the two boys, We might just gaze at the ocean, Strangely arched that day of September. And somehow I have this notion: You’ll be skipping in our hearts, Clea, Giggling off our terror, our pain. And Earth, which took your life away, Might become a place that doesn’t scare, Might again be beautiful, fair.


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Acknowledgements Thank you to Juli Capilla for his suggestions and inspiration. My gratitude to John Byron for his support and for encouraging me to write while I was supposed to be at work! Thank you to Anthea Wykes and Carolyn Green for the photographs. Thank you to MarĂ­a Vidal for the cover design and her assistance in producing this book. And to Trudie, for all the love and understanding.


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Profile for Jorge Salavert


A book of poetry, a cry of pain


A book of poetry, a cry of pain