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Archive for June, 2011

So I find words I never thought to speak
in streets I never thought I should revisit
when I left my body on a distant shore.”
T.S. Eliot: Little Gidding
I.

On these pages I record and bequeath
the semi-autobiographical log,
a sort of  last will and testament,
perhaps devoid of the Maestro’s
meter, rhythm and rhyme,
a run-away musical score
for a fugue in counterpoint,
arpeggios and codas galore,
interpreted by two main players,
twin shadows that merge at dusk
on a progress along fog-cloaked
streets and visits to  chapels,
saloons and whorehouses,
a scroll I’ll now type, translate,
correct  and read aloud,
adding here and there
my humble inner music.

Let me introduce
Prufrock,
my splenetic tour conductor,
his brow honored by laurels
while a black derby mercifully
hides a premature bald pate.
Black, too, his three-piece suit
with cross-buttoned vest,
his neck humped forward
from studying too many
massive literary volumes,
long resigned to play Ulysses
shackled to daily routine,
eyes burning bright behind
thick professorial glasses,
he purrs quietly like a kitten,
still unfit to roar like a tiger.

On the mirror of his face,
I see things in common:
pallor of convicted felons?
wrinkles of gloom and anxiety?
I do lack his crafty smile,
thick glasses and ubiquitous bowler:
I call myself Lubin the Wanderer
(not to be downgraded to dilettante?)
now doomed to purgatory
never imagined by Dante
yet presumed by Beatrice
in her less virginal fantasies.
In short, I am a novice courtier
on Hamletian junkets.
indeed  restless voyager,
cloaked in fog at nightfall,
a fleeing ghost, blithe spirit
or lost soul adamant to explore
tunnels into murky courts
presided by lotuses and toads
where marble floors mirror
burglaries, abductions and rapes,
larceny,  murder and fraud
in a luxuriant tropical bedlam
of decaying banyan trees,
insidious dust slipping at night
into maidens’ private chambers,
shouted military orders
and firing squads that shoot
rebels punctually before dawn.

This is indeed the birthplace
and realm of  Lubin the Wanderer.
(In the stately salons,
women come and go
whom Prufrock,  from afar,
heard talking of Michelangelo.
Here they prefer to chitchat
about the last lucky matron
seduced by His Excellency,
Generalissimo Señor Presidente
of the Republic.)

II

“The only wisdom we can
hope  to acquire is the
wisdom of humility,”
says the Maestro.
I accept his serene challenge.
Lubin is my nom de plume
and I was born in humble
Bogotá, just emerging,
still Spanish and colonial,
into the 20th Century,
its somber denizens at last able
to enjoy fresh fish from the ocean,
shining silver treasures displayed
on slabs of ice and saltpeter,
for the amazement
of gentlemen in black
three-piece suits and bowlers
to match, plus debonair cravats,
Chesterfield overcoats,
and umbrellas crafted in London.
(Prufrock would have felt
at home in this privileged clique:
Bogotano from Britain?
Brit reared in the Andes?
Anyway there he was
jauntily promenading
down Carrera Séptima.)

A huge, heavy-bearded man
often visited my home,
named León or Sergio
(I don’t remember which,)
He smoked a big  pipe,
flaunted a cape and a fancy
musketeer’s headpiece
“He’s a poet, a loony poet,”
gossiped  the chorus of servants.
Poet? Loony?
New words for little Lubin
to learn, repeated over and over
like a broken Victrola record,
ever louder and louder.
in the  nightmares that came
with childhood diseases:
stomach cramps,
aches in growing bones,
scarlet fever
( Or  was it measles,
maybe rubella? )
Whatever,
The maids lined my windows
with red tissue paper,
an old home remedy
for children’s’ chafing eyes.
Lubin, a sickly child
reared by officious females
under the figure of a macho father –
half athlete, half civil warrior
full time politician –,
a pampered boy bathed
in a pond of sun-warmed water,
safely remote from rivers
cascading along the Andes.

León. the bearded poet,
ever more dogged and loud,
kept showing up at home,
invariably carrying
thick books and assorted papers,
Did he perhaps accompany
Prufrock on his  peripatetic
rounds at nightfall
through muddy lanes
to inspect dreary slums?
Did he, too, believe in the
of the wisdom of humility?

At home the chorus
of aunts and servants,
I imagine now,
Increased their prayers:
“May the Lord protect Lubin
from ever contracting poetry!”
I look at myself in the mirror:
like Prufrock I question:
“Why should I presume
if I discovered poetry
right there, under my nose,
in our homegrown orchard?
Talk about humility!

Prufrock,
my teacher and role model,
tamer of London’s feline fogs,
please don’t look at me
with such a puzzled grin:.
I’ll  repeat once again:
my name is Lubin
and with a bit of irony,
my own inner music,
and disdain for death,
I have enough to presume –
maybe not a great deal –
just to keep me alive.
Is this the humility you preach?

III

You say, Maestro:
“I should have been a pair of rugged claws
scuttling across the floors of silent oceans.”
Not enthralled by its mysterious depths:
mountain-born, to me the sea is an open road
that beckons, widens and branches out…
As child I dreamed being a sailor unbound
on a schooner with flipping sails in search
of pearls and gargoyles along  hidden  reefs,
at times drifting without charts or compass,
leeward, avoiding  harbors,
seaward exploring the unknown,
entangled suddenly in a jungle of Sargasso,
plaything of the trade winds in April,
lured by the bluest of blues
echoing  south from New Orleans.

Between your punctual time
for tea, cakes and ices
and the uncertain hour
to sail on my dream schooner.
we’ll unravel our mutual itineraries,
and merge time between
yesterday, now and tomorrow,
so well formulated centuries ago
by Quevedo
with his wisdom of humility.

You and I know
this as the truth
and have sung
to it in our poems:
everything changes,
decays and passes on.
All dies,
dissolves,
or is distorted,
to be reborn at times
as a  beetle or an orchid,
The placid town of my childhood
now a bloated human hive,
without  streets to promenade at dusk
(an invitation renewed by Prufrock
with his usual politeness),
or fog sneaking round corners
to hide, bed down and go to sleep –
poignant nostalgia indeed
for slumming tours in London
come early in  October!

Here, on the summit of the Andes,
beyond a dark green plateau,
to east and north, sprawl out
scorching tropical valleys,
muddy, slow-churning rivers,
choruses of cicadas and hornets,
molasses and musk in the breeze.
the stench of crude oil in the humidity,
north winds pulverizing sand dunes,
and far in the distance, sparks
from cracking plants in darkness.

A starless night: no galaxies to trace.
I’m on a freighter returning south,
still callow, eager to mimic Prufrock,
and come ashore on an island shunned
by migrating birds and roving poets:
in a cottage on the wasteland, near the sea,
a teen mulatto wench reluctantly opens
the clamp of her thighs.
Only to doze off,
exhausted and sweaty,
her sex cold as a wilted rosebud,
melancholy vegetal texture
planted at midnight
on the border between
sand dunes and mangroves.

It’s wartime,
and ships sail from the harbor
with lights blacked out.
I refuse to awaken her from
her juvenile dreams,
or trespass her
thousand-year weariness.
In true imitation of you,
Maestro,
I flee  through the lust-charged
darkness among bodies
entangled on the beach,
under the watch
of a  cloud-sheered moon
blinking through divided clusters,
and race to the docks,
to hide, stowaway,
on the first sloop to sail.
Prufrock, dressed in whites,
foppish in a skipper’s cap,
is at the helm.
From the harbor
we hear the wailing bells
of buoys along the channel.

IV

Swayed by the lunar phase we loved rapaciously
and through the half-closed window, meekly,
past the gossamer lattice and the waning evening,
we heard, muffled, the horses trotting and the cymbals clanging
of the Changing of the Guard…[1]

Had Lubin been born in London or studied at Harvard,
I might have written for my master such stanzas:
lyrical, musical, debonair, even rhymed.
But poetry explodes out of me,
shamelessly wild,
wanton resurrection
of ancient tars  and fossils,
filled with primal dissonances,
bastardized words,  mute chords,
aboriginal mantras and  music.
People often ask:
“Lubin, why are you a poet?”
Maybe I’m still a lone, sickly child
lost in the corridors
of the house where I was born,.
its dining room with stained glass shutters,
wild, velvet-leafed trees in the orchard,
vaults frequented by ghosts,
and the ubiquitous presence
of León, the bearded poet,
not to mention memories
of my windows lined with red paper
when nightmares came
in the wake of chills and fevers.

Maybe I write poetry
because even today,
doomed to purgatory,
I’m still moved –
sometimes to tears –
by salmon-hued sunsets,
red and yellow tulips,
twirling blue jays,
a lost street puppy
or a young wine unable to travel.

You, Maestro, claim humankind
cannot bare too much reality.
What else can I possibly add?
Sooner or later
I was bound to escape
from reality and discover
poetry churning in my gut:
Lubin, beardless poet
who does not  smoke a pipe
nor boasts a musketeer’s hat,
a poet who dons slacks
and gaudy T-shirts
with images of puppies,
and eschews Prufrockian vests.
Pray tell me, Maestro,
What’s  a poet’s correct wear?
Mourning jacket with tails,
a gardenia on the lapel,
white-on-white starched shirt,
gray  sox, patent leather shoes
classic top hat as seen at Ascot?
I’d use these trappings
to attend a few
funky lyrical soirees,
and then let
mildew and moths
do their dirty work,
along with the stylist cravats
Prufrock fixes in place
with metaphysical pins
vacant of angels to be counted.

For after all’s been said and done,
the Maestro comes to the point:
poetry, time unfathomable,
cosmos unbound,
flight from purgatory’s
daily reality
that kills ever so slowly,
the yearning
to break the vicious circle,
by joining the Maestro
on his rounds blanketed
by kittenish fogs when
October comes to London.

In passing, may I bid you,
my esteemed mentor,
to join me and Prufrock in effigy.
on this demented fugue
past my tropical heartland
that beckons shiny in the south
before we keep our rendezvous
on a remote shore.
This journey,
I assure you,
has compensated in fold
all the agony and joy
of Lubín being a poet.

“The dying must retrace their
steps on earth before their soul
may rest in peace,”
chanted the choir of servants
in my father’s  house.
Retrace my steps?
It wouldn’t take too long:
I’ve already done time in purgatory.
How to relive my only one life,
or multiple dislocated lives
I dare claim as my own?
Either way,
I could possible manage it:,
I’ve said it before,
and will repeat it now.
In imitation of the Maestro:
it’s a tale  told with irony,
humble inner music
and disdain for death.
This has been
at times enough,
and at times excessive.

Again I look in the mirror:
sly, Prufrock keeps smiling.
Or is it Lubin in disguise?
I see no traces of my
childhood high in the Andes,
no  shadows that  insist and nag,
to parade at dusk on paths
leading nowhere,
no invitations to palaces and bordellos,
executions and white-tie banquets,
and free admission to nature’s fireworks
just before sunset up in the clouds,
All these metaphors have sufficed
and even surpassed
my fondest poet’s expectations.

In the mirror
Prufrock insists:
“Then why not presume?”
In New York I discarded
inborn, landlocked  candor
and hung it from a rusty hook
in a hotel room rented by the hour
off Washington Square.
To quench hangover thirst
I drank water from the faucet,
aware I risked
cramps in an empty belly.
Hunger in Manhattan,
most real of  all hungers.
Pity Lubin, lone and hungry
in the midst of so much reality,
nestled in Harriet’s magnificent sex,
not drowsy or dry like that girl’s
on a wartime Caribbean island,
but eager juicy pomegranate.

On the edge of Central Park,
at Rumpelmeyer’s,
matrons with hair dyed purple
and coifed poodles on their lap,
savored tea and crumpets
the collation favored by the Maestro
for autumnal assignations
and they came and went
actually talking of Michelangelo.
New York:  multiplied nightmare
orgasm of the loftiest geometry,
realm of basements and tunnels,
an army of logarithms going berserk
mammoth  factory of shadows,
where giant areas of empty space
erect forests of invisible towers..

“Catharsis! Catharsis!”
cried out Lubín along  Manhattan’s
iron-clad streets and avenues.
It was the new age of corrosion,
fuming liberated amazons
and armed assault and robbery.
New York: hunger, jazz, sex
“Catharsis! Catharsis!”
New York: soot smearing snow.
“Catharsis! Catharsis!”

IV

“Do I dare? Will I dare?”
insists Prufruck.
Would Lubin, now sixtish,
dare to lose 20 pounds,
learn Kung-Fu,
carry a gun in a halter?
Or dare write Harriet a love letter
to evoke her musk,
a blend of nutmeg and seaweed,
or kneel down before her
and beg her to forgive your
past lies and infidelities?
No way.
You can’t turn back God Time:
since the autumn of 1940,
I  hear an echo of vampire bats
along MacDougal Alley
“There will be time,
there will be time”
repeats the Maestro.
Time for sand clocks
to distill every grain,
for grave diggers to read
our fortune in tea dregs,
time to meet Lazarus in the subway
and carry his useless shroud
on  procession up Fifth Avenue.
Tme to place our severed heads,
on  bejeweled platters
while incestuous dancers
perform on the satrap’s podium.
time to hang from the gallows
or share his lukewarm bath,
stained red,  with Caius Petronius.

Time for humility,
presumption
and fear:
for I am also old and scared
the Eternal Footman,
his little black book on hand,
will indict me for twenty years
of poetic silence,
afraid the Maestro will be unable
to get me off the hook
in purgatory:
In short:
I’m now beyond
the point of no return.

How avoid sharing your fears?
Will there be time for the soothsayer
to inspect our entrails,
seal our fate and dispatch us
to eternity,
completely,
hopelessly
formulated?

These are, Maestro.
the misgivings and yearnings
that at daybreak
ambush me
punctually.

VII

The Maestro said we cannot
conceive a time without the ocean.
I, Lubin, repeat this mantra
as I walk briskly to our meeting.
His trim figure, a bit humpbacked,
albeit graceful, dressed in blue
blazer, white ducks, naval cap,
beckons me obsessively
from the approaching shore: .
two shadows merge at dusk,
just before the mermaids start singing.
In his gallant image on the beach,
I envision absolution,
and release from purgatory,
for all poets.

When all has been said and done,
and the mermaids begin to chant,
we’ll all be free of fear, presumption
and even humility.
At the end of the journey,
what matters is to have
sung at all, true, Maestro?
Even in this disjointed fugue
by an unredeemed wanderer,
composed with irony,
humble inner music
and disdain for death.
This has been enough,
maybe at times too much:
to uphold my intimate truth.

“The end of all our exploring will
be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.”

This paradox of yours, Maestro.
stated with such humility ,
has been the unknown root,
unprinted chart,
uncertain compass
in our fugue in counterpoint:
demented itinerary
of two major players
who are born and agonize,
always cloaked in fog.
and arrive at the place
where they started.

And now, Maestro,
we’re both on that shore,
the sea dons its bluest blue,
and the mermaids
at last are singing.
This evening their chants
will possess us secretly.
Let us surrender to them
on the outgoing tide,
and in our final descent
through the sea’s gossamer folds,
human blood and primal magma,
cleansed of all presumption,
rising above the surface,
we’ll become
foam to foam,
ocean to ocean.

[1] The stanzas in italics are written in English in the original poem in Spanish
M

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Tribute to T.S. Eliot

Since my teens I have been an enthusiastic admirer of the poetry of T.S. Eliot and proudly acknowledge its influence on my own poetic work. In 1984, in a collection of poems in Spanish “Voces en el Desierto” (“Voices in the Desert”), I featured a long poem inspired by my literary and existential symbiosis with Eliot titled “Fuga en contrapunto with Prufrock” (“Fugue in Counterpoint With Prufrock”.) Some years later I learned that this specific poem had motivated renowned Argentine novelist and critic Abel Posse to include me in his selection  of “great Latin American voices.” For unexplainable reasons only too common in poets, in 1984 I did not attempt to write an English version of the above cited poem. I am doing it now, 27 years later, for posting in Duopoetico, to be edited by Pilar,  along with the original Spanish version, which I have also polished.  And let readers  judge and comment on both.

As a footnote, in 1988, to mark the first centenary of Eliot’s birth at the Casa de Poesía Silva in Bogotá, I introduced a reading of “Fugue…” with some references to the existential empathy I have always felt for him. Specifically, what he told one of his biographers about having had to pay an excessive price for being a poet, a feeling I have frequently shared. Perhaps because both of us have been married for long stretches to women emotionally unable to fathom – and much less share – the passion, joy and solitude of being a poet.

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Hace días que los ruiseñores,
se están dando banquete
con grillos regordetes.
de todos colores,
y mal proporcionados,
que debido a sus excesos
han diezmado todas las hojas,
salvo las más resistentes,
así como los capullos
y tallos tiernos
de fresas en floración
y de aromática albahaca.

Me alegro ahora contar
con este sorpresivo aliado
en mi guerra declarada
pues sé bien que un intruso
de semejante tamaño
puede con facilidad alimentar
varios polluelos hambrientos…
y cansada estoy de murmurar
perdones y cerrar los ojos,
cuando llega a mis oídos
el cruel sonido de Don Grillo
al crujir de sus mandíbulas,
cual campana doblando a difuntos.
Es curioso cómo uno permite
que la compasión
se involucre en tantas otras
faenas propias de jardinería,
pero al final de cuentas
la belleza siempre acaba
venciendo a la bestia.

La verdad sea dicha,
he observado a fondo
estas bestezuelas,
cada vez más asombrada
de que su tamaño
sea signo de la generosidad
de mi jardín y mi huerto,
del honor de nutrir y criar
grillotes de talla mayor
cual suculentos crustáceos.
¿No les gustaría probar
“Grillo a la Thermidor?

De modo que,
esperanzada,
admiro a los ruiseñores
como dignos contendores
con sus alas desplegadas
y franjas blanquecinas
en su armadura grisísea,
que saltan, chillan,
ensartan sus presas,
y dejan restos coloridos
entre las hierbas más altas
para ejércitos
de minúsculas hormigas.

Me pregunto
si es la falta de lluvia
lo que ceba así a los grillos
que parecen florecer
en medio del calor seco
mientras que todo lo demás
se marchita sin remedio.
Y por ello,
al alba de una tórrida mañana,
salgo sigilosamente
como cualquier alucinada,
los ojos enrojecidos
por el fuego,
a bailar a la sombra
de unos eucaliptos,
meciéndome
locamente como ola
como río,
como océano sin límite,
para rogar que llegue
la lluvia… .

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For days the mockingbirds
have been feasting
on multicolored
huge crickets,
so immense
and mal proportioned,
by their incessant
feeding:
consuming all but
the roughest of leaves :
blooms
tender stalks
budding strawberries
savory basil…..

I am glad for it-
this sudden ally
in my war –
for I know
one of these huge
invaders might feed
several hungry chicks….
and I have tired
of whispering forgiveness
as I close my eyes
slam
and hear that cruel crunch:
that Jimminy Cricket
death knoll:
funny how soon
one lets compassion
slide into a gardner’s
long list of excuses:
but in the end
it’s a matter of beauty
over beast.

In truth,
I’ve stared them down
in complete amazement:
realizing that their girth
is a sign of the bounty
of my garden –
it’s an honor of sorts
to feed and grow
a cricket of this size –
resembling
a sumptuous crustacean:
cricket “boil” anyone?

So,
I look to the mockingbirds
with hope:
they are a fair opponent,
wings flung wide
their white stripe
bright against
the armor gray,
hopping mid screech
and piercing their game,
leaving colored remnants
in the high grass
for tiny armies of ants….

Is it the lack of rain,
I wonder
that grows them so huge?
They seem to flourish
in the dry heat,
while all else dwindles:
all else –
so in the early light
of another scorching morn,
I slip out
like a crazed
woman
eyes ablaze
from the endless heat
and dance neath
the leaning eucalyptus
sway
like a wave
like a river
like a huge ocean,
like a fool….

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Plasmar tus pensamientos en un poema te puede llevar a un viaje donde tu mente consciente momentáneamente navega a la  deriva.

Cualquier obra de arte tiene poder igual para expresar tus pensamientos íntimos al de otros vehículos de meditación. Hacer explotar con energía una gama de colores en un lienzo te ayuda a soportar el peso del mundo que cargas sobre tus hombros, así como entonar bien una canción te inspira a descartar temores para superarte en tu propia vida. En cuanto al acto de meditación
que se realiza mientras creas poesía, al plasmar tus pensamientos en un poema te conduce  en un viaje por tu universo íntimo donde la mente consciente momentáneamente navega a la  deriva.

          Como sucede con otras formas de meditación, la de escribir poesía exige que estés plenamente presente durante el proceso, sin
enfocar otros resultados.  Al hacer esto, te libras de inhibiciones o ideas sobre “lo que debe ocurrir”, y así tus pensamientos fluyen libremente a través tuyo. Porque al crear poesía, tienes el don de ver los reflejos de tu ser más íntimo plasmados sobre cada página.

          Si deseas emplear la creación poética como medio de meditación, ensaya este siguiente ejercicio: reserva 20 minutos para estar solo en un lugar silencioso. Incluso ojeando
poesía escrita por otros y quieres inspirarte en su estilo. O también adoptar otros tipos de verso libre. Así la estructura del poema se te irá revelando orgánicamente. Cuando estés listo, siéntate con pluma y papel a mano y deja que vayan fluyendo las palabras. No pienses en lo que vas a decir  en seguida, ni te preocupes por la ortografía,  gramática on lógica. Más bien  procura ser descriptivo, visualmente preciso, rítmico y lírico. Cuando creas terminado lo que estás escribiendo, deja la pluma y lee lo que has redactado. Es el momento de apreciar la obra de arte que has creado. Es posible que descubras que muchos pensamientos y emociones que antes tenías reprimidas ahora van aflorando para que las procesarlas y  liberarlas, Escribir poesía como forma de meditar te permite frenar la mente lo suficiente para desahogarte a tu manera, y así tu alma puede expresar con libertad tus anhelos más profundos.

Al leer hoy lo anterior, me alegré de que alguien haya expresado lo mismo que sentimos al escribir poesía mi  papá y yo.  Aquello de estar  plenamente presente durante el proceso y que de éste ideas vaya fluyendo la creación poética es ardua tarea para nosotros los poetas –ya sea como medio de meditación a través de la liberación del ser creativo sin juicios ni reticencias. Creo que mis poemas sobre meditación o recitación de cánticos son el medio que he empleado para de encauzar ciertos pensamientos precisos, por ejemplo en  “Suñía” y “Japa, mi único amor verdadero”. Ahora caigo en cuenta de que, como poeta y yogi, me empeño en fusionar estas dos energías creativas. Deseo vivirlas a través de las prácticas y meditaciones del yoga, y luego expresarlas en mi poesía, cerrando así el círculo completo porque para expresar la experiencia en meditación o cántico, debo dejar que todo el proceso se repita en el poema, tal como la serpiente se enrosca hasta formar un círculo de la cabeza al rabo. O sea la imagen que simboliza la fuente de toda creatividad según la tradición yogi (o al menos la Kundalini) de la serpiente enroscada que llevamos en la base de la espina dorsal y que posee energía creativa, la cual hay que liberar para que ascienda por el  espinazo hacia niveles más elevados de conciencia, o sea de energia shakti.

Mi papá ha expresado su mundo contemplativo en el poema “Meditación acuática a Mediodía.”  Ambos buscamos la paz y el solaz en los espacios quietos de sunai , o sea escuchar en verdad nuestras voces interiores, que al fusionarlas crean poesía y nos deleitan aun más. ¡Gozamos el doble por nuestra calidad de poetas!

Tal vez estoy rumiando estas inquietudes fi1ósoficas a la sombra de los ǎrboles de mango en el huerto mágico de papá para no escribir un poema – o como preludio de otro poema. De todos modos quería compartir estos sentimientos con los lectores porque de un momento a otro he de emprender camino lejos de mi padre, mi único verdadero guía y socio en este loco universo de la poesía.

Sat Nam (Soy la Verdad)

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Hoy, gracias a la esquiva sombra
de una mañana de estío,
me quedé sentada,
mirando absorta,
a los tres palos de mango
en el huerto de papá,
las ramas cargadas
de la pródiga cosecha
de este verano:
frutos ovalados,
morados, anaranjados,
que caen sonoramente
sobre césped y piscina,
proclamando madurez
y colman la casa entera
de fragancias voluptuosas
y una contagiosa euforia
que algunos llaman locura.
Asombroso me parece
cómo estos frutos se nutren
de sol, día a día,
para brindar a todas
las criaturas de Dios
su tierna y gustosa pulpa:
ardillas que estiran
las carnes filosas
hasta hartarse,
arrendajos que picotean
la semilla pelándola del todo.

En días como este,
llevamos las manos llenas
de mangos maduros,
en una y otra recogida,
incluso pescamos
“bombas” caídas en la piscina,
y las descartamos detrás
de las azaleas como postre
para ciertos visitantes nocturnos,
que no siempre son bienvenidos…
He visto al atardecer
ratas corriendo por cables eléctricos,
y adivino qué andan olisqueando,
por no hablar de lagartijas
ni de diversos tipos de insectos
que van a darse banquete
durante este mes tórrido y largo,
en que los árboles siguen vertiendo
tornasolados lagrimones.

La casa prosigue impregnada
de la fragancia agridulce
que despiden canastadas
de mangos que decoran
con lujo la mesa del comedor:
emperatrices doradas
que brillan sensualmente
en el modesto hogar de papá…

El embrujo del mango
teje su magia entre vecinos,
que aparecen en la puerta
con los brazos abiertos,
“para ofrecerles un saludo”
y rematan diciendo:
“¿Verdad que estamos
en plena cosecha de mango?”
Todos salen complacidos
Portando su bolsa de frutos,
ojalá para gozarlos como dice papá:
“Desnudos y cerca del agua”. Y orilla de un río.

Levanto la mirada de mi mesa de trabajo
y en pleno calor del día,
veo a Lourdes, también milagrosa,
al complacer los bien merecidos
caprichos de mi papá.
La veo chupando con fruición
mango tras mango,
descalza y con ojos vivaces
como si estuviera en la tierra
de su niñez rodeada
de imágenes y sonidos
que le llegan desde lejos
en la dulzura de su fruta preferida.

Sentada a la luz del atardecer,
solitaria, escucho los murmullos
del estío meridional
y siento sobre un muslo
la sutil revancha del árbol:
un fruto gordo que cae
y me da un golpe rotundo.
Algo reacia, lo admito,
llevo al comedor el inesperado regalo
y lo entronizo en la cúpula
del templo dorado.

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Today, in what little shade
the summer morn would allow,
I sat and stared at my dad’s
three mango trees,
full on –
I could hardly take in
the width and breath
of this year’s amazing crop:
each limb heavy with oval
fragrant fruit –
crimson/orange bombs
falling loudly
onto grass
or into pool
announcing
how ripe and lush
they are….
and then over time,
and days
they simmer in the sun,
their scent intoxicating:
vapors wafting,
luring all God’s creatures
to the soft and sweet meat:
squirrels pulling
at the stringy flesh
till satiated,
and then blue jays cleaning
the large pit down
to its woody core.

For days,
we carry arm loads
of ripe fruit,
until we have to make multiple trips.
We fish the rotting bombs
from the pool,
and toss them behind
the azalea bushes,
where in the dark,
our not so lovely
night visitors will relish
the dessert….
I have seen those
rats at dusk running
across the lines
and I know just
what they are sniffing out:
not to mention
the lizards or odd
assortment of bugs
who will feast for the
next long and hot month,
as the trees cry their huge
colorful tears…

The house is bathed
in the sweet scent
of basketfuls of fruit
adorning the table,
like some
elegant empress
of  gold,
shimmering sensuously
in my dad’s modest house…

The lure of the mango
weaves its magic
on neighbors,
as they appear at the door
with outstretched hands,
or drop by “just to say hello”
and “oh my, it is mango season
isn’t it?”  Bags and bags
march out the door –
to be enjoyed as they should
according to my father,
“in the nude and close to water.”

I look up from my desk,
and in the heat of the day
see Lourdes,
truly a lady of miracles,
as she care takes
all my dad’s well earned whims –
gleefully sucking  mango
after mango,
barefooted and wild-eyed,
as though home in her
native land
surrounded by the sounds
and sights she loves:
the sweetness of the fruit
carries her miles away …..

In the light of dusk,
I sit once again,
alone
listening to the sounds
of a southern summer,
and feel the mango
tree’s sweet revenge
full on my thigh
and carry the gift
(all be it – reluctant)
inside
to be stacked at the very
tip top
of our golden temple….

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