Three Poems by Gemma Gorga / Translations by Sharon Dolin


Man of Little Faith

Today we’re releasing the still-intact light.
Words gleam like restless
fish waiting for the miracle
of their multiplication.

Life is a wonder of great fragility:

under doubt’s imperceptible weight,
destiny will be turned into
stone. And with the receding waves,
the beach will fill with dead fish.


Home de poca fe

Avui estrenem la llum, encara intacta.
Les paraules llampurnegen com peixos
inquiets en l’espera del miracle
de la seva multiplicació.

La vida és un prodigi massa fràgil:

sota el pes imperceptible d’un dubte,
el destí quedarà convertit en
pedra. I amb el reflux de les onades,
la platja s’omplirà de peixos morts.


Long Journey

Trains and poems are running by rail.
They run day and night. Little windows
for the light to breathe—every three  
seconds, three seconds. The speed
curls inside my ears like a long coiled
Siren’s tail. Swallow a word
to hear again. On the platform
someone who moves their hand,
someone, who. Trains full of merchandise,
full of passengers, full of livestock,
full of couchettes, full of the deported.
Unexpectedly, the tunnel closes
its eyes. Shadows shudder, unwieldy
as suitcases already filled with roots.
And this absurd poem goes off the rails,
speaking—it seems to me—about distance.


Llarg Recorregut

Per les vies van els trens i els poemes.
Van de dia i van de nit. Finestretes
perquè respiri la llum —cada tres
segons, tres segons. La velocitat
es cargola a les oïdes com una
llarga cua de sirena. Empassar-se
una paraula per tornar a sentir-hi.
A les andanes algú mou la mà,
algú, qui. Trens plens de mercaderies,
trens de passatgers, trens de bestiar,
trens de lliteres, trens de deportats.
Inesperadament, el túnel tanca
els ulls. Trontollen les ombres, feixugues
com maletes massa plenes d’arrels.
I descarrila aquest poema absurd
que parlava —em sembla— de la distància.




Phosphorus

I open the box and take out one after
another without pause. Igniting them is easy:
first, grasp them delicately between your fingers
before striking them against a rough surface for an instant—
such as the walls of night, reliefs of memory. Sometimes
I wonder where this love of mine for useless gestures
comes from, if it’s a sickness or else
a blessing: seeing that nothing comes
from nothing, to keep on insisting, in spite of everything,
to keep on burning the thin stick of words I take out
of the box delicately, one after another
without pause. Extinguishing them is as easy
as igniting them: just count to three and wake up.
The only thing remaining from this great luminosity
is a handful of tiny calcified cadavers, now scattered
across the blank page, and a strange phosphorus flavor
at the root of the soul, the exact center where language is born.


Fòsfor

Obro la capsa i els vaig extraient, un rere
l’altre, sense aturar-me. Encendre’ls és senzill:
s’agafen primer amb delicadesa entre els dits
i es freguen un instant contra un superfície
rugosa —com ara les parets de la nit,
els relleus de la memòria. De vegades
em pregunto d’on em ve aquest amor pels gestos
inútils, si deu ser malaltia o potser
benedicció: veure que res no serveix
de res, i seguir insistint, malgrat tot, seguir
cremant la fusteta prima dels mots que extrec
de la capsa amb delicadesa, un rere altre,
sense aturar-me. Apagar-los és tan senzill
com encendre’ls: únicament cal comptar fins
a tres, i despertar. De la gran lluminària
només en resta un grapat de petits cadàvers
calcinats que ara s’escampen sobre la pàgina
en blanc, i un estrany gust de fòsfor a l’arrel
de l’ànima, al centre exacte on neix el llenguatge.








Gemma Gorga (b. 1968) has published six collections of poetry in Catalan. Her most recent collection Mur (2015) won the Premi de la Critica de Poesia Catalana. She has also published a book of translations by the Indian poet Dilip Chitre and co-translated a book of poems by Edward Hirsch. She is Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Spanish Literature at the University of Barcelona.

Sharon Dolin has published six poetry collections, most recently Manual for Living (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016). Her translation of Gemma Gorga’s book of prose poems Llibre dels minuts (Book of Minutes) received a 2016 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant and is forthcoming in a bilingual edition from The Field Translation Series / Oberlin College Press in 2019. She directs Writing About Art in Barcelona each June.












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