FICTION POETRY NONFICTION ART
EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Carroll Beauvais Alice Holbrook
POETRY EDITORS Gina Gail Keicher Jasmine Santana
FICTION EDITORS Chris Brunt Caitlin Hayes Annie Liontas
NONFICTION EDITORS Mikael Awake Chanelle Benz ART EDITORS Rachel Abelson Rebecca Fishow
ONLINE EDITOR Helina Kebede DISTRIBUTION David Wojciechowski FOUNDING EDITOR Michael Paul Thomas ADVISORY EDITOR Michael Burkard
READERS Oscar Cuevas, Mi Ditmar, Kit Frick, Cate McLaughlin, Devon Moore, David Nutt, Nina Puro, Jessie Roy, David Wojciechowski Salt Hill is published by a group of writers affiliated with the Creative Writing Program at Syracuse University. Salt Hill is funded in part by the College of Arts & Sciences and the Graduate Student Organization of Syracuse University. Special thanks to the following individuals for their generous support of the journal: Terri A.G. Zollo, Sandy Parzych, Daphne Stowe, Sarah Harwell, Erin Skye Mackie, George Langford, Gerry Greenberg, and Christopher Kennedy at the Syracuse University Creative Writing Program.
SUBMISSIONS: The editors welcome submissions of poetry, prose, translations, essays, interviews, and artwork from August 1 through April 1. For submission information, please visit our website at www.salthilljournal.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. / SUBSCRIPTIONS: Individuals: $15 one year, $28 two years, $42 three years. Institutions: $20 one year, $38 two years, $54 three years. Canadian and Foreignâ€”use rate for institutions. Sample packs: $16. Visit www.salthilljournal.com / ADVERTISEMENT RATES: Full page (6 x 7.5") for $125; half-page (6 x 3.75") for $75. Please make checks payable to Salt Hill. Distributed in the US and Canada by Ingram Periodicals Inc., 1240 Heil Quaker Blvd., La Vergne, TN 37086 (800-627-6247) AND Ubiquity Distributors, Inc., 607 Degraw St., Brooklyn, NY 11217 (718-875-5491). Design and typesetting by NIETOpress (www.nietopress.com). Salt Hill is indexed in the MLA International Bibliography. Copyright 2011 UPC 7447092503 Cover Art: Kim Asendorf, Untitled, digital photograph with pixel sorting, from the Mountain Tour series / Interior cover: Kim Asendorf, Untitled, digital images, from the gridCube series
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS When selecting work for our 27th issue, we found ourselves traversing an eclectic terrain of landscapes, ranging from private to public, internal to external, emotional to physical. Throughout these writings, we are lead by characters and speakers who invoke our trust, if not in humanity, then in the places we live, ruled by weather that promises both death and rebirth. As these voices grapple with the spaces they inhabit, their worlds are defamiliarized and made new, revealing truths equally as real as the laws of nature. These works reflect a progression towards thaw. We begin with the embittered, isolated uncle of Angela Woodward’s “Kingdoms and Classifications,” who cannot (and may not wish to) escape his own underworld “kingdom,” and the disturbed István of Brian Evenson’s “The Other Ear,” who we watch descend unwillingly into madness. At the other end of the spectrum is Lily Ladewig’s spirited speaker who posits that “In France, June,/ tastes like lime.” Of course, there are complicated and contradictory states in the middle-ground between these two poles. The thaw also reveals what has lain beneath, both literally and metaphorically, in Ryan Cannon’s “The Pump House,” as Thomas and Penny act out a cycle of grief and blame, with Thomas revisiting places of nostalgia, taking Penny to the pump house because “it was the place he knew.” Sean Bishop’s speaker in “Red Shift” confronts grief head-on, questioning time and space in the wake of his father’s death, while Victoria Chang’s poems explore the impulse toward both warmth and brutality brought about by new motherhood. In “Garageology” and “Driveway Designs,” Ryan Ridge satirizes the treasured spaces of Americana in our homes, decomposing the spaces to make them better known, and Dawn Raffel zooms in, taking an inventory of objects to tell a memoir in “Rascal” and “The Sewing Box.” Art from Kim Asendorf and Eden Veaudry show landscapes in flux, using digital processes and camera angles to reveal the abstract of our everyday surroundings. And Raúl Zurita, one of Latin America’s most celebrated poets, writes of rivers and cliffs, longing and celebration, dreams and pained journeys, with a voice that is at once intimate and expansive. In snowy Syracuse, we know what it means to wait for the thaw, and all the slush and mess that comes with it, because the uncovering also represents the possibility, though distant, of renewal. This circular journey through hope and despair is the dark and beautiful mystery that keeps us returning to the domain of the page.
T A B L E
36 Erika Meitner
Aerial Sorted (Without Black) (throughout) Voronoi Particle Series (Mini-interviews: details, throughout) gridCube (throughout)
45 Simeon Berry
37 Ryan Ridge Garageology Driveway Designs
Kingdoms and Classifications Mini-Interview
13 Miriam Bird Greenberg
46 Conchitina Cruz
from Outside In The New Country
16 Eric Weinstein Quarry Song Love Machine Charting the Apartment Mini-Interview
21 Christopher Salerno
The doppelgänger moonlights in the adult industry
Five Lines Nobody Does It Better
50 Patrick Dacey Cuyutlán
59 Arlene Ang
In Which Part of This Conversation with the Dead Do You Belong Miscellaneous jazz harmonics
Landmark Nostalgia Disorder
23 Brian Evenson
The Other Ear
33 Sarah Messer
Three Centuries of Getting Pregnant By Accident Insomnia
35 Carrie Hohmann
This Seems Like a Beginning
63 Sam Lipsyte & Anthony Antoniadis
70 Amy King
A Line Is a Dot That Went for a Walk I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On
72 Carl Phillips Paperweight First You Must Cover Your Face
C O N T E N T S 74 Kathleen Rooney & Elisa Gabbert
Some Notes On Conversation
76 Victoria Chang
123 Michael Shea
126 Raúl Zurita
Dear P., XI Dear P., XIV Dear P., XVIII Mini-Interview
translations by Anna Deeny La séptima ¿Amanecerá entonces? ¿Sentiré entonces? Sí
81 Kim Asendorf
135 Lily Ladewig
Thunderstorms Will Be Near In France, June Mini-Interview
Mountain Tour Stolen Pixels
90 Eden Veaudry Photographs
97 Dawn Raffel Rascal The Sewing Box Mini-Interview
104 Sean Bishop
Red Shift Reading Dante in the ICU
109 Ryan Cannon
The Pump House
140 Sharon White
On Voyage 2010 Calvino Prize Winner
166 Contributors’ Notes
Kim Asendorf, Untitled, digital photograph with pixel sorting, from the Aerial Sorted (Without Black) series
Kingdoms and Classifications Let me begin by suggesting that you read this page and see whether you find the subject matter, and especially the words printed in bold face, reasonably familiar, or absolutely incomprehensible. If they are familiar, you may press on into the main text. But if they are very strange, may I recommend that you go out into the garden and find your uncle. He is your mother’s brother, and she has trouble putting him in his place, though he is a burden on her family, a source of tension with your father. When their voices keep you up at night with their arguing, he shouting, she crying, it’s your uncle at the root of it. Of course he’s brilliant, but he can’t hold onto any kind of job worthy of him. He trained to be a chemistry professor. He holds an advanced degree, or at least most of one. For a while, he taught general science to first-year students at the shabby nursing college downtown, but that was too taxing. Then he had a scheme involving the transport of bees from orchard to orchard in a specially outfitted truck. Now his occupation is to drink in the shed he helped your father build out back. All members of this group (Fig. 2.4) are obligate parasites. They feel that something is owed to them, usually by the people who brought them up. Your uncle harangues your mother for money. As soon as she gives it to him, he complains. It’s not enough, it was not given freely, and with hope. “I don’t want your pity,” he says, the bills in his fist. The shed was to have been her garden retreat. It’s stacked waist-high with empty bottles and overflowing ash trays. He sleeps out there because he hates his sister’s suburban house. But then he works it as if she won’t let him in. “What am I, an animal?” he says. Yet we have classified him as a sort of fungus—that is, a member of the Fifth Kingdom. Only your mother knows his secret, how he sprang up out of the roots of a rotten oak the morning after a nightlong rain. He was so endearing at that point, orange and stubby, vivid and upright. No wonder
all his early promise vanished—he grew from nothing more than a spore. Not a seed or an egg—these are the other classifications, the producers and consumers. He is a destroyer. He can’t remember, yet he knows somehow the soft underground chewing sounds as cellulose is softened, shredded, ingested, and spat out. When the moon rises, tubelike filaments sift through the soil, probing, snuffling. He replicates this in his fondness for drink and damp, his night moods, his instability and gloom. He is an expert, so he says, on decay. He’ll take you out to the pine forest and run his hands along the cankers emerging from the trunks. This is blister rust. Of what kingdom is this creature? It may take decades for the canker to engirdle the tree, thus this fungus belongs to the kingdom Slow Darkness. Your uncle can tell you all about this, the authority he had as a young man clamped behind protective goggles in the university laboratory. He knows how things gradually go off kilter, so a man thumbing through a textbook one day is six years later holding a blanket over his face to keep the sun off—he’s afraid to get up. Your uncle loved a woman, but he says he found out she was no good. She never knew what she wanted. She drove him nuts. What kingdom does she belong to, that pretty Karen? We’ll find out later on. “I wish I’d never set eyes on her!” he says. One day you saw her, though, idly filling her car at the Citgo. He was inside buying a Pepsi, and you were tagging along. He stood by the door, waiting for her to leave, while mumbling, “I should just say hi. Say hello.” There was nothing very remarkable about her. She chewed her lip while studying the gauge. Maybe she didn’t have much money, and the price worried her. Maybe she had somewhere she was supposed to be ten minutes ago. Or she was simply distracted, her mind on nothing important, while the pump chugged to itself. Through the backseat window you saw a little arm raised, and the top of a black head. When the gas was done, she opened the door and bent in. As she straightened up, you got a glimpse, just for a moment, of her remarkably beautiful infant. This could have been your cousin, but instead, you will never learn her name. What are the other kingdoms and classifications? Fast Darkness—after they broke up, your uncle went over to Karen’s house with a gun. He intended to shoot himself on her doorstep. But first he had to wake her. 8
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He threw his shoe at her window. He’d not only had a lot to drink, but he’d snorted something he bought downtown, a white powder that might have been anything. “You bitch! You bitch!” he shouted. “I’ll kill myself right now if you don’t stop me!” It really wasn’t much of a request. Another kingdom is Gold. Also Longing and Bitterness. I asked you earlier to move on if you understood, and if you did not, to judge yourself and ponder. So you should know—did he put the gun away? The nursing students struck him as abysmally dumb. He shuddered to think that one day they would be drawing his blood or handing his surgeon the calipers. But the women felt sorry for him—his socks didn’t match, he sometimes forgot what he was saying. Where they could have hated him for berating them, one or two felt tender towards him. “I’m the one who can help him,” these ones said to themselves. One day, Karen went up to his desk after class, where he was simultaneously picking up and dropping his papers, unable to cram them into his folder. His fingers seemed incapable of gripping. He was cursing, near tears, his hangover inserting a layer of greasy felt between his hands and the rest of the universe. “What?” he said. These students wanted so much from him! She was here to tear his throat out! She held up a Xeroxed page of lecture notes, offering order and patience. He stalked out without it, the back of his neck burning. Clearly, she moved on—the baby, the car—and your uncle is still out back, where he claims to be studying downy mildew and damping off. It’s your mother who can tell you—you don’t remember, you were too young—the one time he brought her over. He had vanished for weeks, deep underground with his new love. “Some organisms which seem unitary,” he told her, “are in fact partnerships, or even consortia.” This is admittedly true of the members of the Fifth Kingdom, which bind together as acres-wide creatures, more like underground neighborhoods or cities, living tenements. Perhaps Karen found it romantic, the way he had so quickly given up his aloneness. So they were crawling through tombs together, he and Karen, feasting out of skulls, all the things lovers do,
including those things on mattresses, at night in silence after her roommates were asleep, touring the rubble, wandering the forest, looking over the walls of the old fort. He couldn’t have been happier, though she—we don’t know if, perhaps, she already felt a suspicion. He was wrapped a little too tightly, didn’t she think? Engirdling. When they came to his sister’s house, he was a new man, for once truly adult. Or he approximated it, the normal, natural social interactions—Ann, this is Karen, Karen, my sister Ann. He didn’t whine, or leave his dirty dishes on the table, or look for money in your father’s desk drawers. She said hardly anything, while he held forth—utility stocks, the city council, how lovely the turning of the leaves. “What would I do without her?” he said, still digging his fingers into her arm. “Yes, the dean,” he said, his fellow teachers, his plans for completing his degree in a related field and moving on. His ghastly white face composed itself as handsome, regular. His shirt fit. His teeth showed clean. This is what he was capable of, this simulation of the human. But he simply wasn’t. We couldn’t ask it of him, given his antecedents. He only knew how to tear apart, to decompose. You found him one morning, where he had fallen asleep among the hostas, maybe having failed to locate the door of the shed in his stupor. Such a smell came off him. He’s happy at any time to take you down to where he belongs, to show you around his underworld. Down in the wretched loam, the duff and rot, the leaf litter and cat corpses, in the Fifth Kingdom, he is a prince, a true prince, beloved by all.
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Kim Asendorf, Untitled (detail), digital image, from the Voronoi Particles series
Salt Hill: How did you decide to integrate the “textbook” form in “Kingdoms and Classifications”? Does the construct help create sympathy or distance? Angela Woodward: My prime task as a fiction writer might be to tell the fairly ordinary, common human stories—love, loss—in unusual ways, so we can see them better. In this case, the fungus textbook seemed to give the right perspective on the uncle, who is not a producer or consumer, but a destroyer. The construct creates distance, but might open us up to more sympathy, to seeing this bad drunk in a different light. SH: How did you choose and develop your narrator? Did the story originate in this voice? AW: This narrator is lifted right out of the fungus field guide. The first sentence is either a direct quote or close paraphrase, I don’t remember. It’s a very firm and authoritative voice, and I wanted to use it to discuss some not-so-scientific things. I fell right into it, and the story unrolled itself.
SH: Can you describe how you research and integrate data or terms into your work? Do you seek data solely for informational purposes, or are you additionally concerned with the sonic attributes of terms? AW: I think I’m really attracted to the voice of science, of research. In this piece I also liked the way, in the source material, some of the words were emphasized in bold or refer to figures. I’m interested in appropriating that sound and look and bending it to my own purposes. Most of my “research” is purely accidental, though, things I stumble on in the corner of the library. I feel like the texts I use find me, rather than the other way around.
SH: Who do you look to for inspiration? What kind of “possibilians” most inform your writing? AW: I grew up on myths and fairy tales, and the authors you mention as “possibilians”—Calvino, Marquez, Angela Carter—are all people whose work I adore. I like a really heightened sense of language, whether the work is realistic or not. I’ve been reading Dickens and marveling over the odd angles he describes things from—personifying the tablecloth to narrate a dinner party, for example. Dickens is also so endlessly entertaining, with a real generosity towards his readers. I like to think that if the writer kindly beckons, the reader will follow, to some very odd and hidden parts of the universe. Interview by Annie Liontas
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Miriam Bird Greenberg
from Outside In The New Country Night trembled all around me. Sign on the door of my travelers’ hotel: “Outside Is Not So Safe,” the darkness slipping its fingers in around the unlatched lock, but what you really had to watch for were pits dug in the ground in empty places. Stumble and you might find yourself kissing a pale face covered in grief, or eyeto-eye with a drowned animal. Borders shook, sewn shut like sutures fraying at the edges of the night. Watch carefully when the moon is at this angle, people go out to the woods (no: are sent) with shovels. Fallen fruit sweetening the air, pungent where saplings will sprout from the stones in spring; but the pits they are digging are meant
for a different thing.
Kim Asendorf, Untitled, digital photographs with pixel sorting, from the Aerial Sorted (Without Black) series
Quarry Song Let the fossil record show me something I’ve never seen before—the Cambrian sea evaporated in its sleep, the oil shale singing coelacanth blues—deep beneath granite and limestone, the long vanished interior of the prehistoric whale, all shell, no Exxon. Show me my home in the geologic column, imbue me with a brand-newish taxonomy: Homo sapien riprap maybe, or Lord of the Pit. Commit me to the clear, deep quarry water and write me an elegy in the sand. Calcify me into a freeform crystalline knockoff of the Vitruvian Man, wheeling like Ixion through time. Show my face to my sons and daughters in the far-flung future. Let them assemble me beside my twin sisters, Lucy and Eurydice. Let them wonder, or believe. Let them wrestle me free from the earth and give me a name. 16
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I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On —Samuel Beckett I am walking through a field. I see the swell of craggy trees, potbellied leaves, an open book, goose shit. Inside me is a landscape replica, a compass mapped. A lantern swings in the distance, despite the porous wind. This baby takes over my steps, steps into my shoes, and I walk “childlike” among the grasses, echoing the earthworms, braying like donkey ears on an actor’s cue. A bicycle passes by these accidental burial grounds. Pineapples and tea roots never enter my mind; they remain adult remains, unable to vine into my baby head & heart. A child in the distance hands over a rotten token, invites me to the Loop-de-Loop. He wants to pass unnoticed, wants me to distract the barker with an adult-head face. Initial imitation, I learn a coastal folk dance with him while the child rides circles in the air between us. What once was glass could become bread or the quivering crystal rabbit sitting on the table before us now. The stew bubbles midnight’s snack. My body becomes pregnant and physically alive. The child harbors inside: we are all fields, elk songs replete. I feed peanuts to goatface interlopers. We go for the hunt, me and the boy with antlers tied to our ears. The silent river nearby learns the ropes of favorite dance steps. Elderberries ripen their favorite positions, our last minute call for shots of forest whiskey, deficient sap to nourish these limbs; the disintegrating lamb crawls out of the pot. Full from light and the river’s abundant edges, we relax in the day’s next morning to play pigeon with the birds & rock for a pause.
1. MOUNTAIN TOUR
2. STOLEN PIXELS
Untitled, digital photographs with pixel sorting, from the Mountain Tour series
The Sewing Box I keep my needles and threads in a small round cardboard box that was originally home to a jigsaw puzzle given to me by my maternal grandmother. The box showed how the 36-piece puzzle would look when assembled, with two teary pink heart-faces floating in red and pink paisley. The pieces have vanished and the box is mostly broken, disconnecting at its seams. My mother stored her needles and threads, and buttons and snaps, hooks, eyes, her cloth tomato full of pushpins, and her measuring tape in a Barton’s bonbonnier tin (“Continental Chocolates”) from the 1950s, with icons of the world’s great places (the Kremlin, Big Ben) on the lid. The lid barely shut. She had decades-old darning needles packaged by Singer, 30 cents for 6. Her threads told the story of the colors she favored—reds and blues, black, plums, pinks, flower colors, summer shades, but no green, for which she expressed an inexplicable dislike. When the time came to bury my mother, my stepfather asked me to pick a dress. He seemed to think I could complete this task in less than ten minutes—he was one of the most practical, decisive men I’ve ever met, even, or especially, during the months when he was dying. It was hard for him, I think, to understand second-guessing. My mother, however, had four closets full of clothes for me to consider, plus more in the basement. I wanted my mother in death to look beautiful and elegant and like the artist that she was, but not as if she were going off to a cocktail party in the hereafter. I wasn’t entirely sure which garments fit; she kept three sizes. Standing in front of cashmeres and silks and brushed cottons, I was paralyzed. One jacket that she hadn’t worn in decades reduced me to tears. I can’t even say what it made me remember. Then I saw a simple cotton-blend sheath with cutouts at the neckline and delicate beading in blue and pink and lavender. I’d never seen
it on her. I looked at the label, which said FAITH. I added taupe heels, a glass heart necklace from her beloved art museum. She didn’t need a purse but my stepfather and I tucked a packet of her ubiquitous Kleenex tissue into the coffin. I found her Barton’s candy tin the next year, after my stepfather died, and it fell to me to disassemble the household. Amid the orphaned threads, the threaded needles, pins, I saw the extra buttons to the dress, attached to the cardboard price tag that said FAITH. And so I have two sewing boxes, though I rarely use them. The longlost puzzle that my grandmother gave me had dialogue under those campy, weepy hearts: “I don’t miss you. I have something in my eye.”
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Kim Asendorf, Untitled (detail), digital image, from the Voronoi Particles series
Salt Hill: How did you arrive at the project of your memoir, The Secret Life of Objects? What made you want to write a memoir after writing fiction, and why did you choose to do it this way—through the details of objects? Dawn Raffel: I didn’t sit down and decide to write a memoir. I was overtaken with the desire to write about the objects, and the pieces came very fast. I did far less revision than I do with fiction, because this felt like watercolor; I didn’t want it to be overworked or muddied. It was only after others read the pieces that the word “memoir” was attached to the project; that took me by surprise, but I guess it is one. SH: Does the genre of memoir complement or contradict the notion that writers should not write with ideas in mind? When you begin to write, do you generally start with an idea or a bit of language that leads to someplace unknown? Does nonfiction in any way limit the “discovery” we so often associate with fiction?
DR: I often begin fiction with a visual image, something that is charged for me in a way that I don’t understand. The image must be translated into language, and, yes, it leads to someplace unknown, or perhaps known deeply, but not consciously. In my most recent short story collection, however, a few of the stories are based on real incidents or on stories passed down in my family. I manipulated chronology and composition in an effort to turn what had been anecdotes into more complex narratives. So I suppose moving into nonfiction wasn’t an entirely illogical progression. To write about the objects, I stripped down my
sentences, got rid of all the syntactical tricks I deploy in fiction. Although I knew what we’ll call the facts of the objects, discovery, significance awaited me in the act of composition.
new way. That can be very subtle. It doesn’t require an exotic setting, a wild plot, or a prose style that screams. It requires courage, authority, and precision.
SH: For a writer who pays such close attention to the acoustics of a sentence (and as a former student of Lish), how do you reconcile the desire to make a beautiful sound while adhering to the “facts” of memory in nonfiction? Is this more complicated when writing nonfiction?
Interview by Annie Liontas
DR: The acoustical properties of the sentences carry less weight here than in most of my fiction, where a great deal of emotion—of story itself—may be riding on cadence, but rhythm did remain important. The one thing I never want to do is to write the same book twice. I suspect—hope—that in my next work of fiction, the sentences will feel different yet again. SH: What do you most value as an editor when selecting work for publication? DR: I want to be made to see something, to feel something, in a 102
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Reading Dante in the ICU Today I’d like to talk for awhile about death among the gift shop’s plush koalas and chrysanthemums, its aisles and aisles of light-dazed kittens pouting from cards. Upstairs, a surgeon is drilling a hole in my father’s brain, and what pours forth when the burr pulls out could be a little anthem for the miracle-believers of the world—more likely it will just be blood. So many cards. So many get-well cats in stethoscopes, dressed as nurses, each blank inside. If I tell you, now, that once I had to kill a mewling thing like these, because its back was a corkscrew, broken by someone else’s boot, would you think I’d shown it mercy? Would you think I’d been humane? By now, the surgeon is telling his assistant that sometimes, in these cases, the way out is through— when the drill punches in, the patient comes to, as if he’d journeyed back through the musky places of youth, to the womb, and just needed a space to escape through. In hell,
says Dante, there is just such a space, though no one ever finds it— so some of the dead must do what they refused to do in life, forever, while others must do the things they did, over and over again. In an hour or two, the surgeon will call me in, and frown, and smooth his green gown, and give me the odds. And then I’ll be left to the hoses inflating my father with breath. Some things I’ve done in this world I know I will have to do again.
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La séptima Llegaron entonces los ríos: los ríos del sueño, cielo y vientos primero, los de la vida después. En notas empezaron a hablar entre ellos, en silencios las cosas de la intimidad, en pausas las del entendimiento y en acordes todo. Así fue el encuentro, la comprensión, el sonido. Fue mente, Opus y música su llegada y cuando rompieron planeando sobre las cordilleras, se vio el comienzo y el acabo al mismo tiempo. Así es y se lee: notas de los primeros torrentes tendieron el pasto coloreándose; miles, millones de pastos poblando las praderas en comunismo total de repartición, ecología, luz y vastas planicies. Ese fue el canto de los torrentes, el vuelo, la sinfónica de las aguas.
From La Vida Nueva (Santiago: Editorial Universitaria, 1994) Previous page: Kim Asendorf, Untitled, digital image, from the gridCube series
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The Seventh Then the rivers came: those rivers of the dream, sky and winds first, those of life came after. Among themselves they began to speak in notes, in silence they spoke of intimate things, in pauses of things that pertain to understanding and all in chords. That was the encounter, the comprehension, the sound. Its coming was mind, Opus and music and when they broke soaring over the cordilleras, you could see the beginning and the end all at once. Thatâ€™s how it is and how it reads: notes of the first torrents tended the pasture coloring themselves; thousands, millions of pastures filling the prairies in a total communism of repartition, ecology, light and vast planes. That was the song of torrents, the flight, the symphony of waters.
Translated from the Spanish by Anna Deeny
¿Amanecerá entonces? ¿Escuchas entonces Vespucio? ¿Colón oyes? Mares y fiordos de Sebastián, de Balboa y archipiélagos ¿escuchan? Las suspendidas carabelas y los rayos rastreándolas en el cielo eran bellos dicen. Los acantilados de la noche resplandecían estallando e igual que aviones a chorro, los paneles del gran Matta despegaban fundiendo el firmamento con los últimos amaneceres. Lloramos sí dicen en la noche triste y los hermanos quemados ascendieron cantando como cantan los indios cuando entonan los Salmos. Así se parió hundiéndose la nueva alma dicen y las cataratas del Iguazú, las cortinas del Pacífico, el mar Atlántico se fueron para arriba ardiendo igual que el Reponso. Porque así dicen se anuncia el despertar mi Dios y que serás tú oh sí me dicen el día que regresa.
From La Vida Nueva (Santiago: Editorial Universitaria, 1994)
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Then Will I Awake? So are you listening Vespucci? Columbus do you hear? Seas and fjords of Sebastian, of Balboa and archipelagos, are you listening? They say the suspended caravels and rays dragging them in the sky were beautiful. The cliffs of the night flared bursting and like jet planes, the great Matta’s panels took off coalescing heaven with the last dawns. We cried yes they say in the sad night and the burned brothers ascended singing as Indians sing during the recitation of Psalms. That’s how the new soul was brought forth sinking they say and the falls of Iguazú the curtains of the Pacific, the Atlantic ocean went up in flames blazing like a funeral march. Because that’s how they say awakening is announced my God and that you will be oh yes they say the day that returns.
Translated from the Spanish by Anna Deeny