The Tree of Life, a poem by Francisco “Paco” Urondo, translated by Julia Leverone

The Tree of Life

A washbowl has shown me
the face of my future. There are no complications
or demons past my exhaustion, no consular
officials, no tenderness that rises, not even
as steam, over the lit horizon.

I stare down at the sink, at the bowl’s walls,
at my face. That look
I cannot find, the acacia I cannot smell—oh,
my children, how could I think I would not be affected,
how could I have detested lament.

But complaint and battle sound at the same bell,
especially when we examine time
from right to left, from inside it
facing backwards, by the lifting patterns
of those ambiguous airs, those crossed lights
of the sin of Alexandria.

El árbol de la vida

Una cisterna me ha descubierto
la cara del futuro. No hay bemoles
ni demonios más allá del agotamiento; ni figuras
consulares, ni ternura que vuele siquiera
como una transpiración sobre el horizonte luminoso.

Miro el pantano, la cisterna
que me rodea. La mirada
que no vislumbro, la acacia que no huelo: ay hijos
míos, cómo pensaba no quejarme, cómo
odiaba todo lamento; pero queja
y batalla suenan en la misma campana,

especialmente cuando miramos
el tiempo de derecha a izquierda, de adentro
hacía atrás y vuelan
los aires ambiguos, las luces
cruzadas del pecado de Alejandría.

From Asymptote.

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