8 October | Translation Duel at the Winchester Poetry Festival

Page 5

Mitad del Mundo greetings from the middle of the world … where today

so here i am writing to you ... and a kind of stepped stele

a teeming tourist town surrounds a pyramid of stone

marks the centre of a tourist town whose building will never be done

dark glass of mountains all around quarries craters

around it glassy black hills quarries a crater

the wind full of sand · yet this is where the earth

wind full of sand · but here the earth has been levered from its axis

was lifted from its axis at a stroke and placed

and placed on a monument’s pedestal

upon a monument as if the day had

as if today were the day it had suddenly frozen

stopped it in its tracks · why I am unmoved I cannot tell

solid · what my indifference stems from i cannot tell

as if the lack of any shadow might bring things into true

but it’s as if the absence of any shadow brought everything into line

in the tat shops fuzzy 3-D picture-postcards the compass

grainy reversible figures on postcards in the souvenir stores

of the world · colourized prints of a spanish fortuna

the circumference of the earth · coloured prints of a spanish fortuna

with her globe · the memory of the turquoise blue

with her globe · the memory of the turquoise blue

of high heels in a window that were a shade too blue

of pointed shoes in a window their blue too blue

for you · phrases overheard in passing like: pedir la luna

for you · carelessly overheard phrases such as pedir la luna

and plaques with a celestial machinery intended to express

and celestial mechanics on panels all describing matters

what the models merely show · a dusty light glows through

stencils merely depict · in this blankness a dustier light

the emptiness more dusty the heavens left behind a shell

flares up the deserted sky has nothing more to yield

and when you ask I cannot find a word

and for your questions i can find no expression

to offer other than … in the end it was this very stasis

other than ... but in the end this standstill

that fetched down our endless circling through the universe

at least from high up brought the way even we go round in circles

to find its cognate · and it was here at the equator the metre

down to an equation: it was apparently here at the equator

was defined according to the arc described by a pendulum

they determined the metre as the unit of length a pendulum swung

an arc larger than the space between us when I go away

which was further than i from you after any farewell

translation by Karen Leeder

translation by Iain Galbraith