Contemporary Galician Poetry 1

gal;icia

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The editor of The High Window would like to thank Keith Payne and his team of translators for the hard work and enthusiasm which they have put into the creation of this supplement of contemporary Galician poetry.  Indeed so industrious have they been that we have decided to spread their work over two issues.

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Keith Payne is an award-winning poet, translator and editor, recently co-editing A Different Eden: Ecopoetry from Ireland and Galicia  (Dedalus, 2021). Collections include Broken Hill (Lapwing, Belfast, 2015); Six Galician Poets (Arc, 2016); Diary of Crosses Green, from the Galician of Martín Veiga (Francis Boutle, 2018); The Desert, from the Galician of María do Cebreiro (Shearsman, 2019, PBS Translation Choice); Second Language, from the Galician of Yolanda Castaño (Shearsman 2020) and Jewels in the Mud: Selected poems of Martin Veiga (Small Stations, 2020). He is curator of The Aodh Ruadh Ó’Domhnaill Poetry Exchange between Ireland and Galicia and is currently Cork City Library Poet in Residence.

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keioth cropped

Photo © Javier Teniente

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CONTEMPORARY GALICIAN POETRY
Part I Winter 2022

When David Cooke contacted me to assemble this selection (Part II will follow in Spring, 2023), I recalled the 12-month editing session it took myself, Lorna Shaughnessy and Martín Veiga to read, select and order poems for A Different Eden: Ecopoetry from Ireland and Galicia (Dedalus Press, 2021), and realised it would take me three years to achieve a similar task. So I decided to let the translators lead the way, and sending out a call for their personal selection, I received over fifty poems by over twenty-five  poets from the personal selections of the seven translators featured below, which I hope you’ll enjoy over this and the following edition of The High Window. It is, as it were, a ‘team’ rather than a ‘theme’ effort, in the words of translator and collaborator Pat Loughnane.

And to that team, I am hugely grateful. Each of the translators below gave of their time, expertise, belief in poetry and in Galician poetry in particular, free of charge, which is always worth noting.

The themes, however couldn’t but arise as I read the poems. They began forming out of the paper labyrinth that was snaking across my kitchen table. The poems could have been arranged into utterly different themes, or into no themes at all; could have been laid out alphabetically, by size, weight or shape; randomly or by which of the elements they most closely resembled. For collating poems under a national rubric leads us straight into cliché, reductionism and far too much exclusion. Where the Senegalese poets writing in Galicia today? Ditto Peruvians, Russians and now more than ever, Ukrainian poets sheltering somewhere along the Vigo to A Coruña line? Could I, who spend part of the year in Vigo where I write, translate and give readings, be considered a Galician poet? It’s always intrigued me how one could pass through the needle’s eye to become a Dubliner, New Yorker or Sydneysider so much easier than through the gates barred to all except Citizens.

But that is for another anthology. That ideal Borgesian anthology, which will include every voice writing, humming, lisping and mouthing their words into a polyglot universe of such capaciousness its echoes will reverberate in Semitic, Sanskrit, Proto-Indo European and back to two stones clacking together.

For now, I include here poems written in English by the Galician wanderer Isaac Xubín and to end the Spring edition, a poem by Pepe Cáccamo which is in neither Galego, Castillian or Portuguese, but an invented language of Cáccamo’s own concoction that will tickle the Finnegans jawbone of any Romance language speaker.

But that’s still to come.

For now, I want to thank all the poets who agreed to have their work in translation appear in this Galician edition, also their publishers; the translators (each of whose initials follow the poems they have translated): Neil Anderson (N.A.); Laura Cesarco Eglin (L.C. E.); Patrick Loughnane (P.L.); Kathleen March (K.M.); Erin Moure (E.M.); Jacob Rogers (J.R.); Lorna Shaughnessy (L.S.) and myself Keith Payne (K.P.) and a particular thanks to the Editor of The High Window David Cooke for his opening of the window onto the landscape of poetry in translation.

I hope you enjoy …

Keith Payne, Cork, November 2022.

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I

YOU’LL RECOGNISE THE BIOLUMINESCENCE

“‘Yon’s our house, Mas’r Davy!’
I looked in all directions, as far as I could stare over the wilderness, and away at the sea, and away at the river, but no house I could make out. There was a black barge, or some other kind of superannuated boat, not far off, high and dry on the ground, with an iron funnel sticking out of it for a chimney and smoking very cosily, but nothing else in the way of a habitation that was visible to me.”
“That’s not it?” said I. “That ship-looking thing?”
Hand in Hand with Charles Dickens, in David Copperfield

1

hair wavy like beaten wood on the waters,
a little girl takes one last bite of the apple:
whiteness of inner flesh, Chinese box of seeds, horizon.
the same girl rises,
slightly bends her knees,
tosses the core from the clifftop
onto the beach.

2

we were taught to hide it among equals
as if instead of a muscle it were
a vestigial calcium—cuttlefish bone—
a defense—age-old bow—
but the heart is more of a humble port at the foot of the North Sea,
that lives
entirely
on fishing and salting Atlantic herring

3

We bind ourselves to several people at a time because with each person the festival renews itself; we spare no expense, like in the wealthy homes: mirth, food, cholera […] We fill our lungs, we open the blinds.
let’s revise: the heart accumulates commodities, could be Ptolemy III
ordering that every book on the ships
in Alexandria be copied.

4

when the storm breaks in Equihen Plage
the boats are dragged yards upon yards away from the shores.
wood groaning,
a trail of algae and fury on the blanket of the gods.

face-down on the ground, some resist:
the sun descends and slips, like a coin, through the cracks.

5

like when Celan said there was earth in them and they dug
but substituting earth for light-hunger,
—hunger allows them to see things—
tar to waterproof the roof
swings of a hatchet on the top to reveal the door and windows.

6

in some narratives of the flood,
the world after improves the world before.

7

boat

the rudder is to the boat what the spinal column is to the skeleton.
on solid land, the rudder mutates naturally
into a dorsal fin, aimed at the sky.

there’s the paradox,
the last thing the herring fisherman see:
spread along the beach like a codex,
their homes,xxx crepuscular but alert animals.

8

And its greatest charm lay in the fact that it was truly a boat, that there was no doubt it had ridden hundreds of waves, and that it hadn’t been made to serve as a home on land.
inside, they smell of preserving salts and fish. Jonas, you’ll have a room in the stern, where the helm used to be, you’ll know how to recognize the bioluminescence in the film on the hands that shield a flame
to light a cigarette.

9

thus our cosmogony: a universe reflected in scales
whose final layer rotates around its own axis
and spills.

Alba Cid
From Atlas
Galaxia, (2019)
Of the Spilling of the World
J.R.

When we tread upon the shore,
the Lord of the Hills greeted us.
He was a good host.
He forbid the militias to follow us.
And if anybody dared,
he sent giant waves to beat against the ship.
The sea offered me its back
it was a tame animal,
the waves were tongues that caressed me,
and the curve of my foot was lovely
as it walked upon them, unafraid.

I left my kingdom behind:
it was sunken in shadow.
I had seen how bodies were violently torn from its
core, tents burning in the square.
Yet for a while I kept on singing.
I tightened my skirt on my waist
and started whirling like a dervish,
until all of me was a perfect circle.

But I was just cracked metal top that God spins,
a toy between doors off their hinges.
I fled when one eye blinked, weary from sleep,
the other crying tears of blood.
I began to walk over the sea.

I held in the palm of the hand of the Lord of the Hills.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx(From the story of a little Syrian girl)

Pilar Pallarés
from Versos e formas
PecoFacet, Sabón, 2016
K.M.

POLYPTYCH

He says he will come visit me and that we’ll dive into the sea together.
I answer: the water here is cold. Do you think we’ll resist it?
We’re not afraid of the cold. A million faces keep us apart. My sea is ice cold compared to his.
___

Our bodies separate from the earth in a graceful jump. His body and mine trace an angle identical to that of the Paestum diver.
If I think about it, our bodies rushing into the void are just as enigmatic as that of the Paestum diver, just as sensual.
___

How to decipher the meaning of a scene that no longer exists?
The image of his body and mine facing the sea has more to do with the face of a god than with the face of an abyss. We’re afraid, but we are more prideful, so we jump into the
winter sea.
In his eyes, the beauty of a god and the attraction of the abyss are the same thing,
suspended in the contemplation of the ocean.
I look at him and say: How many bodies do you think will be seen falling? How many
bodies do you think the sea will return?
___

The trajectory of the Paestum diver delineates freedom and sacrifice. With his hands, he makes his way through death; he dives into the abyss with determination.
I observe his silhouette with desire. The tension of death has to do with the passion with which I remember the waves crashing against the rocks and swallowing the beaches.
In winter, my sea is unleashed.
I’m a runaway horse. He’s a fleeting bird. We are, by definition, impossible.
Our story only makes sense at the end: the bodies jumping into the sea, unaware of the abyss. Our foolish passion is winter, the chance encounter with the cold.
___

We want to forget that the Paestum diver is the covering slab of a tomb.
From within, our dive into the sea will be our life’s work, the pinnacle of the beauty we’re capable of.
From outside, it will only feel like a prelude to death.
___

The face of a god is traced in the trajectory drawn by the jump. In the distance, the two bodies in unison are confused as one. Nobody understands our story because there is no story. We’re only trying to make our way through the cold.
The Paestum diver waits on the other side, in the impossible image of the abyss. He’s the only witness of a scene that will never exist again.

Lara Dopazo Ruibal
L.C.E.

SWIMMER
I

Along the parabola that breaks the water,
with gravity’s calling on the skin the swimmer leaps
island ideal through the atlas of the air.
And the trembling water says, with true martyr’s resolve:
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxmake of yourself an arrow.

And he makes a superb stroke
of the vernacular beauty of the naked body.

Swimmer stretching taut the corners of the water,
you pull polishing the surface:
watch your virtue your labour!
Fast to a wave,
xxxxxxxwithin you the tide you contend with. But on you go
even though the voyage is also an excuse
xxxxxxxand every journey an inevitable return,
arriving home the hero’s fate.
Always almost there, to his city gates.

Your breath’s mettle will soften.
Yes, your youth, though still a rumbling furnace
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxwill be silenced
though we’ll still recall the evening sun’s finesse
a scar across the warm blue cast.

Onward swimmer!
Push through the rise and falling search for glory,
seek the door that didn’t exist in water
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxand you find it
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxand you cross over.

And once through name it,
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxand call out: DESIRE.

Jesús Castro Yáñez
from Os nomes e os himnos
Espiral Maior, (2016)
Translation first appeared in os límites da miña lingua son os límites do meu mundo/
the limits of my language, are the limits of my world
URUTAU, (2022)
K.P.

More than on the fish hooks.

More so than in my thumb
with a fish hook
instead of sea bass.

More so than on the fish hook I have in my heart
instead of sea bass.

More so than in the sea bass head that I have
instead of fish hooks,
more, more than in the rings I make you
with sea bass hooks.

Luisa Castro
from Baleas e baleas
Editorial Galaxia, (2018)
Orig. Sociedad de Cultura Valle-Inclán, (1988)
L.C.E.

There’s no rest,
let there be no rest,
let all the hake come together to drown me,
let all the sharks set their trap for me,
let the megrim capture me and tangle me in the longline,
let the frogfish eat all my fingers, may the swordfish
pierce me
let all the breaking waves come for me
or I’ll drown, alone
with the bottle and your angry eyes.

Luisa Castro
from Baleas e baleas
Editorial Galaxia, (2018)
Orig. Sociedad de Cultura Valle-Inclán, (1988)
L.C.E.

We still don’t know what scent, what shape, what texture
whether sandy or stone on the course that takes us with the river to the sea,
to the end of this burning road.
We hardly feel the calm of a conviction:
that where we come upon silence there will be noise
waiting to find
the ear that listens to it

Gonzalo Hermo
from Celebración
Apiario, (2014)
P.L.

MY INSIDES

I went in for a colonoscopy. They gave me a sedative and I saw neither the passage of time nor of the tube, which I mentally associated with a tapeworm, as it wriggled through to my mysterious, recondite ileocecal valve. The screen was there: I could have looked but I didn’t want to, or maybe I wanted to and did but forgot about it afterwards under the glorious auspices of midazolam. A creature of the light, that’s what I am: I can’t believe my own depth. I’m a ray of light, an incandescent bulb. What I did notice was the operating room staff talking about schedules and shifts; my heart leapt into my middle finger. I thought: where there’s light, that’s where you’ll find me. I’m not sick, not exactly, not yet; I’m not in the hospital, not in the sense where people might say, “We’re going to go visit him in the hospital.” No, not yet. I have some pains every so often, but that could just be a muscular thing. We drove to the hospital in the new car. It looks like a seagull egg, but the seagulls don’t notice and pelt it mercilessly with their shit. Afterwards we went to the beach and I swam, and I was back to being a creature of the light, back to feeling like my body was a luminous surface that nothing could ever enter.

Samuel Solleiro
From O mundo dos vivos
Chan da Pólvora (2019)
J.R.

II

IT’S A LIQUID MEMORY

YOU RAIN ON ME

I wake up from these verses of yours
completely wet
your body ardently open
and I wear your tongue embedded in my skin
you rain on me, my love
and I
let myself be rained on
as you approach
opening the way
hungry for the dark
a marvel, where you show yourself
animal
hungry for sleepless nights
and guttural sounds
you rain on me ravenous
while I let you sit
on my face
and I learn to breathe
in your waters
where opening my eyes is
seeing myself in you
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxlosing my mind

Andrea Nunes Brións
from Diáspora De Amor Balea
Caldeirón (2018)
L.C.E.

NOW

you succumb to the romantic promise
and you say
I will be the last breath you breathe that day
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxsand doesn’t fall like a kiss
through the narrow neck of the clock

I will be
is a good start
xxxxxxxfor life
xxxxxxxfor a poem
xxxxxxxfor a canticle with a pop refrain
But I will be
is just an intention suspended on the edge
Only the future perfect indicative is such an improbable clock
so much so
so inert with salt
with larva
with such a narrow crack that it rots
and I will be
I will only be

someone who loved you like so many others
Someone you loved
as if clocks were light and time didn’t pass until they wore out
changing life into nothing
Now that you only remember my silence
now I will be salt and clock
I will be intention project sketch
that doesn’t appear when you write promises of juice made of
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxinvisible citrus
that only appears
when the paper is burned
Now
you know that I prefer awls for writing silences
and that way I
am my own voice

And I will be
yes
maybe a mermaid
now that I’ve acquired
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxat long last
this liquid condition of one who only waits
to be earth, mud or stone
and to be time with a future
be truth and the high tide
of the sea that pulls at my song that becomes a serpent
and can’t turn to stone so you will only be
and come to me as your coffer

Now that you are silent, everlasting,
just like a night in an ambulance with blood like lava
stole my voice,
now that you are all conviction
and perpetuate the doctrine of time that stops
and separates
you will be utter anagnorisis
you will be the future where I saw what I would be
but ended up still
stopped
(by) the broken glass of the clepsydra now a worm
at that moment when I fell silent
and opened what I am
You are a memory and silence
now you think this is the beginning of something that was
or isn’t is more than a simple being without you

Inma López Silva
from Clepsydras
Chan da Pólvora, (2022)
K.M.

It’s a liquid memory
sliding along a conveyor belt.

The images merely a skeleton of pixels.
They lost all form, all touch
all warmth.
01000010, Berlin.
01101111, Mom’s smile.
01110100 01101001, you.

The shelves of this house reveal nothing.

You expand the memory capacity of a wired box.
When you want to remember,
you plug yourself in.

Celia Parra
from Pantallas
Editorial Galaxia, (2018)
P.L.

RIVER

Dousing my hands
I make of myself and river
a sounding board.

Slathering
smothering around the stones
a wet pith.

All we hear:
simply the skin over what
is somewhere trembling.

I have a hand in the river
to hold back the current.

I make of myself a quern stone
to press the river’s bloom.

Jesús Castro Yáñez
from Os nomes e os himnos
Espiral Maior, (2016)
Translation first appeared in os límites da miña lingua son os límites do meu mundo/
the limits of my language, are the limits of my world
URUTAU, (2022)
K.P.

COMPOSTELA

Compostela in its Sunday best,
rain and palaces swallowed by seafoam,
puddles, dytiscus, nautical shrouds,
poles, rafts, drums,
conscripted sailors raising the riggings,
dust from the road and the stars.

Compostela in its Sunday best,
rooftops with trapdoors half open,
letting a druidic light enter
with the magical air of conifer forests,
of glass embedded in metamorphic rock,
of sheer sediment of ashes and incense,

Compostela in its Sunday best,
a well-fed drizzle of rainforests is falling,
with fulfillment and drumrolls,
trenches and ancestors,
masts and rudders,
schools of flying fish.

Compostela in its Sunday best,
children bustle in the streets and the Alameda,
with music, games, cryptic labyrinths,
words that pass by like lovers do,
sundials, sand clocks, time in symmetry,
time delayed, time and time.

Compostela in its Sunday best,
with gazes of amethyst and beryl,
emerald mines beneath its stone slabs;
water, clouds, rooftops,
valerian, azaleas, sagging lunularias,
walls dripping moss and orange lichens.

Compostela in its Sunday dress,
great cornices like eaves
their gargoyles both terrible and proud,
dripping repeating confronting
the ancient stoicism of clerics,
worn cassocks chewed by worms.

Compostela in its Sunday best,
algae sprouting and rippling
columns capped by pediments
bloodless lips of ghosts,
air encased in crypts,
blood flowing from battles of the past.

Compostela in its Sunday best
rain and palaces swallowed by seafoam,
a healthy drizzle of forests is falling,
and glass incrusted in metamorphic rock,
and emerald mines beneath stone slabs,
bustle of children in the streets and the Alameda,

Xavier Quiepo
from Poemas en Pegadas
Concellería de Cultura (Santiago), (2006)
K.M.

III

THAT’S WHY THIS IS A FOGGY PLACE

THE HENS

I

I wake up in the back room with my throat full of dogs.
It’s raining and my grandmother gets up at seven in the morning with no bra on. The pure white flesh there for the taking.
There’s something gnawing away at the bedroom walls. My naive thinking would say it’s sadness. The eyes of a much older woman would talk about the past.
My grandmother’s bosom is white and round but it could be made of coffee or still water.
My throat’s full of dogs and I decide to howl.
Run down the hill to me, quick! Bark! Feed from my grandmother’s breasts!

*

My grandmother will either be eaten by the hens or a huge black rooster.
Still, the hand that feeds will stay forever young, untainted. That’s why my grandmother’s hands are so soft: because they give, and feed.

*

The feathers on the wings of an angel come from a hen, not an eagle.
While they run their hands along the eggs counting losses and gains in equal parts, love and responsibility to blood in equal parts, my aunt and grandmother decide that the hen eating its eggs to survive will have to die.
The next day, in the moisture of the boiling pots, the caressing hands, scalded, pluck the feathers.
That’s how justice is born in the minds of angels.

II

There are two windows in the back room. It’s impossible for the light not to enter, or the cold. The road on one side, the animals on the other.
My mother slept in this room as a child. My mother was a small and well-behaved animal as a child. You couldn’t hear the rooster in the morning at the convent school.
The dogs are barking. It’s a vengeful howl.

*

My grandmother will be eaten by a huge black rooster. My mother wanted it that way. Needles won’t work. My grandmother’s white and bright breasts like needle threads.
We learned that knives cure not cut. Words too. It’s not exactly the power of the angels, because the power of the angels is imagined, not named. It’s also not the strength of the hands breaking the hens’ necks.
Revenge and justice keep on moving forward even if you cut off their heads.

*

Run down the hill, Mom, run! The dogs are coming after you! The hen’s wild eyes are coming after you! Run! She tries a low, clumsy flight. A trace of feathers, a small shadow.
There is no song in the hens’ flooded throats, Mom, or any dignity in the rooster’s comb. But there is a howl, a new day, an escape.

Ismael Ramos
from Lumes
Apiario, 2017
J.R.

COMMUNAL MOUNTAIN

1.

We grew up in abandoned houses
and in the stomach, nourished
by cobras and the space around
the skull.
We walked along the quaking bog
and slumbered in the muck, with the tadpoles.
We survived in the mysterious

whisper of the world.

2.

The scars remain on
the innocent extremes of the body
and the certainty that the building’s
entire structure was once aflame.

Antón Lopo
From Corpo
Xerais, (2018)
J.R.

THE ERRAND

What will you have today, young man?
I’ll have a slow sinking feeling
Please
And a slice of salted horizon.
Give me
A handful of dry eyes
Without the tear-fat.
And while you’re there, I’ll have a touch of nothing.
Just a pinch of extra mature nothing.

Manuel Rivas
from A boca da terra
Xerais (2015)
Translation first appeared in The Mouth of the Earth
Shearsman Books (2019)
L.S.

The calf had been a stillborn
You cradled it like a son
Descended with it in your arms filled with night
One foot in front of the other like a child that’s starting to walk
All to leave it at Coto da Mina crossroads
And have the wolves eat it

Rafa Lobelle
from Cotodamina
Chan da Pólvora, (2018)
P.L.

María:
the bones of our fathers live nearby,
they swivel toward the silence of time that is not.

If they returned,
would they want to join this dance of the dead?
Holding hands the gutted youth
and the one who awaits
the pale flora of the gaping chasm
occupying the wine cellar
with a student transcript
in a pocket.
Coral grows from the eyes,
there are two of them (in humans),
the left one wise
concerning a mother’s knowledge
(the fishing line,
the plastic bag
on a folded page of newspaper
and beneath, pink embroidered silk
and inside,
between pages three
and four, disguising the references to honor,
the chapter of the Koran).
The right eye,
follows the swerves of the banks of fish
while their nails dread falling
from their toes, their mother of pearl worn off.

Our days
are just an insect swallowed up by the mouth of the funnel,
María,
the tiny slit of an ailing throat,
May’s light swirling and disconcerted
at winter’s end.

Our fathers,
they know this.

Maybe tomorrow your father will descend to you, while you sleep,
(our dead fathers travel in that time that is not,
into our time,
they watch us mature without them,
they mourn how we become old)
and he might leave a bit of moth dust
on your eyelids.

Maybe tomorrow you will find peace.

Pilar Pallarés
K.M.

CASTRO LABOREIRO

This is the place where the emptied sphere
left a rough beauty.
Amputated altars
that bite the skies.
Opened bodies,
skinned stone
with lichen dressings.
This beauty that wounds and licks:
you are of this place
or you have no place here.

Manuel Rivas
from A desaparición da neve
Alfaguara (2009)
Translation first appeared in The Disappearance of Snow
Shearsman Books (2012)
L.S.

IV

DEDICATION AND THE COMMUNAL DREAM

Three poems from O Valo de Manselle by Anxo Angueira, translated by Erín Moure.

Translator’s introduction: AA’s language in this poem does not describe the land; it IS the land; it is muscle against stone, arm and iron bar levering stone, his language extends and contracts fibres grown in the body from human food; its vocables are of the earth that makes this food, of mouths and spirits sustained by the earth, that in turn sustain earth. There is no space between these constituting fibres, no gap. The stone is vocable, the fog is syllable, and language and the earth together are alive and kindle life. He uses no abstraction, all his words could be words spoken by a villager, by a fieldworker, by a mother, by a bagpiper in the course of their everyday relation. As such they are concrete and abstract at once: concrete because they breathe and can bruise or raise up or shelter, abstract because together they bind to create a world. “The Wall of Manselle,” said Galician poet Alba Cid on the publication of the 2020 edition, 25 years after completion of the wall, “is in reality a wall of words.” (Diario Cultural Galicia, http://www.diariocultural.gal/colaboracion/o-valo-de-manselle-de-anxo-angueira-volve-25-anos-despois )

“The Wall of Manselle” exists in the real world: it is a stone retaining wall built by neighbourhood labour over two years in the village of Manselle, home town of Angueira, and finished in 1995; it turned a slope used as an informal waste ground into a community playing field. Angueira’s poem—Angueira is from Manselle— pays the people who built it homage, and pays homage to their names, their places, their language. The wall itself is poem; he writes the wall of the poem with their names and their places; his words are stones, great stones, that joined together bring joy and outlast our own lives. Photo of the wall here:
https://www.obaixoulla.gal/elementos/dodro/arquitectura-civil/o-valo-de-manselle

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxWe are the field labourers of Galicia.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxOurs was the cellular condition
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxof honey. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxHeriberto Bens

I

And they do it.
And all in the village go on Saturdays, all day.
And women and youngsters go.
And I saw it and it’s a wall that holds up the whole shebang.
And they do it.
And one powers up the cement mixer
and another lugs water to add it in
and another the ’dozer to haul stone on his own from the mountain,
which is of stone.
And all put their backs into it and their hands.
And I saw it and the wall is one heck of a wall, the wall of Manselle.
And they go and get on with it and raise it as they once did together at harvests
and threshings.
And no one orders them or comes to their aid.
They do it.

II

Out of the fog that sog-drenches the broom,
Ovidio of the Ministras comes.
Crowbar on his shoulder,
Fernando of the Coutas comes.
Via the hill from Ermida,
Alfredo Lina comes.
Begging ballast, Antonio Calo comes.
And here’s his father-in-law, Moncho of the Serodio bunch comes.
And here’s Valentín, Valentín Monisa comes.
And here’s Marucha, she’s kin to Olia and Cardoña
and Otilia of the Netos and Berta of the Romeras
—they left a brimming soup pot on the hob as usual—,
the women come.
And Branco’s youngsters, and Lelo’s, and Virtudes’s.
And there’s Andrés and Moncho, he’s Benitiño’s,
and there’s Xacobe and Xosé and Benigno and O’Campelo and Florencio too,
those guys with hands, with guts, with eyes, with names
who aren’t even labourers these days
—anxious and avid all—
and who still live condemned
to dedication and the communal dream.
And they do it.
They alone.

III

They are us.
Those of us who come from wet shore-soil and from flood-soaked reeds,
those of us who come from cutting clover
and green hay in Sulaíño,
from sinking carts and cartwheels into muck right to the cartbed,
those of us who come via roads,
via stiles and covered-over rest spots
to arrive and cling fast to
the Aire Hills and those of Mós,
out by Cal de Barcas or by Cal de Martiño,
to rockslabs that will be hearth or millstone,
or ovenstone or lintel, or flagstone or trough,
or simply stone
to be written into a wall,
the wall of Manselle.

They are us,
the immemorial tribe who defy
public works,
architecture,
subsidies,
institutional concepts of a people and of dream.

Anxo Angueira
from O Valo de Manselle,
Xerais, (1996)
new edition Apiario, (2020)
E.M.

INHERIT THE LANGUAGE

You can find them in the docile scent of the fig tree,
In the first roses of summer,
The kaleidoscoping colors of a kiss,
With the curiosity of an animal as it looks
xxxxxxxxin the mirror.
And they smile, with the rosy tenderness of naked
xxxxxxxxgums,
Offering caresses with the arthritic hands of
xxxxxxxxmemory,
soft little fingers an arpeggio in E minor.
Letting love leaven
– love of so many forgotten generations –
in order to inherit the language.

Patricia Torrado Queiruga
K.M.

BALTAR, 1:00 AM, AUGUST

There aren’t many of us left here. They taught us to pass the time making as little noise as possible and so we all get along.

After going to bed, if we pay attention, we can hear the night scratching in the woods. And all of us, each one in their own room, thinks of the words that remain. We can hear the screens of mist creaking against the rooftops, hear an abundance of ivy ciphering the surface of a farewell. Hear too, the pears ripening on the tree behind the house: utterances the enthusiastic summer is beginning to learn, songs that have just taken root.

Behind all this there is an echo that never ends and we never get to find out what it says
we
we
we are not many and we are searching for a word that won’t leave. We listen very closely, we are silent like someone sleepwalking into the disappearance of a place.

The pine needles in their continuous dance ask something as they make their way to the brink of the past, flourishing to abandon.

The night brings black words. Like happy swallows in a cave, like those powerful tractor tyres. We listen to the night’s black tongue. It has been eating blackberries.

Jesús Castro Yáñez
Translation first appeared in os límites da miña lingua son os límites do meu mundo/
the limits of my language,are the limits of my world
URUTAU, (2022)
K.P.

1

The air vibrates with absence. Recent.
The stroke of its hand
designing an arc of trees and river
– a circle of farms –
and that broken line of the horizon
with a building still standing and brushwood.
Light a lamp, so evening can emerge.

2

This is how it will be:
a vague track in the landscape
like a remnant of domesticity
in an animal long ago lost.
The rest is light,
the sky and its epiphany.

Pilar Pallarés
K.M.

you found a wicker chair in a clearing among the reeds. It was facing east. You were certain that whoever it was didn’t bring it there to wait for the sunrise, but to see the moon come out

December 6th of the year 2052

the recently retired man that sowed the field up the mountain that was his father-in-law’s. You had spent three years crossing paths. The first he hardly saluted you (he in his car, you walking). The second he began to raise his hand and one day lowered his window and you exchanged a few words. This one in which you both walked he sometimes stopped to ask you about your work on the other side of the stream

and hadn’t the Little Prince tamed
a fox?

he talked and talked non-stop. You felt great walking behind him, going from one place to another between flagstones and trees. At one point he lamented not having his vegetable garden nicer and all the effort it took him to pull the weeds. Then it was your turn and you tried to explain to him that the mountain is mountain and never wanted to be some park

Sixth Great Extinction

you cried a lot in the morning, dressed all in black. Black shoes, black socks, black pants, black shirt, black jacket, black apron and cap: your work uniform (you started Saturday, a double shift)

49 days
average length of a temporary contract
Spain, 2019

Sara Plaza
from todos os pasos fan ruído
Espiral Maior, (2021)
P.L.

THE DAY’S LAST BEES

It’s ten at night, Vilariño beach, beginning of summer. The sky is blue, dark.
So still, so ready to break at the edges.
Then, the day’s last bees begin to arrive. First three, then four. They begin their dance near our car, on Vilariño beach, around a flowering St. John’s wort.
I didn’t know that was what they were called, those flowers. My friend taught me some days later when I showed her the photo. A tepid herb-tea yellow.
We strolled.
Along the path, we found an unsigned poem. Carved in stone. A classical epitaph.
Laid out their before the waves, each word, each syllable, is made to vibrate in the bodies of those who pass by. Insects again, children with their mouths open. Resonance.
What the dead think about us takes up more space than whatever we might think about the dead, I told you. I remember reading that somewhere.
And I remembered perfectly where I had read it and why I was saying it. I even remembered the name of the writer.
At the edge of the beach, near our car, there’s a pizza stand and people are gathered on the patio talking. It’s a chaotic melody, a quick movement.
Soda, beer, cigarettes, stained cardboard boxes.
The pizza guy is an attractive man. Do you like him?
I know very little about us. Less and less, I’d say. I never felt the need to know more.
At the end of the day, we take our dinner home. Just like the bees.
Their song of longing comes with us. A buzzing that grows.

Ismael Ramos
from Lixeiro
Xerais (2021)
N.A.

Where dream lifts you you’re smaller than a flower
notwithstanding that the wind riffles the grasses

where the stone rises over you
you’re at the portals of the world
there you extend your hand
there you theorize

on white ash
on wood bright with light
on the distant ones

as in the nights that are traversed by swimming

at the far reaches of the infinite

Chus Pato
from Un Libre Favor
Galaxia (2019)
English translations from The Face of the Quartzes
Veliz Books, (2021)
E.M.

*****

THE EDITOR

Keith Payne is an award-winning poet, translator and editor, recently co-editing A Different Eden: Ecopoetry from Ireland and Galicia  (Dedalus, 2021). Collections include Broken Hill (Lapwing, Belfast, 2015); Six Galician Poets (Arc, 2016); Diary of Crosses Green, from the Galician of Martín Veiga (Francis Boutle, 2018); The Desert, from the Galician of María do Cebreiro (Shearsman, 2019, PBS Translation Choice); Second Language, from the Galician of Yolanda Castaño (Shearsman 2020) and Jewels in the Mud: Selected poems of Martin Veiga (Small Stations, 2020). He is curator of The Aodh Ruadh Ó’Domhnaill Poetry Exchange between Ireland and Galicia and is currently Cork City Library Poet in Residence.

TRANSLATORS

Neil Anderson is a teacher and translator living in Savannah, Georgia (USA).

Laura Cesarco Eglin is a poet and translator from Uruguay. She translates from Portuguese, Portuñol, Spanish, and Galician. She is the translator of claus and the scorpion by the Galician author Lara Dopazo Ruibal (co.im.press, 2022). Her translation of the Brazilian Hilda Hilst’s Of Death. Minimal Odes (co.im.press) won the 2019 Best Translated Book Award in Poetry. She co-translated from the Portuñol Fabián Severo’s Night in the North (Eulalia Books, 2020). More at lauracesarcoeglin.com

Patrick Loughnane is from Galway, Ireland. His translations have appeared in numerous publications, and at festivals across Europe.

Kathleen March (Rochester, NY) Professor Emerita, University of Maine. Literary critic and translator of numerous Galician writers. The Hole in the Ocean, short stories, to appear 2023 from Veliz Books.

Erin Moure is a poet in English and English/Galician, translator of poetry—especially the syntactically strange or “difficult”— from Galician, French, Spanish, Portuñol, and Portuguese, plus (with Roman Ivashkiv) from Ukrainian to English. She lives in Montreal, works everywhere.

Keith Payne
c. above.

Jacob Rogers is a translator of Galician and Spanish and a winner of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the PEN/Heim Translation Fund. His translation of The Last Days of Terranova, by Manuel Rivas, was published by Archipelago Books in November 2022.

Lorna Shaughnessy is a poet, translator and academic. She has published four collections to date (delete?) with Salmon Poetry: Torching the Brown River (2008), Witness Trees (2011), Anchored (2015), and Lark Water (2021). She lectures in NUI-Galway (the University of Galway) in the Dept. of Hispanic Studies and is Director of ‘Crosswinds: Irish and Galician Poetry and Translation’. https://mooreinstitute.ie/research-group/crosswinds-irish-and-galician-poetry-and-translation

 THE POETS

Anxo Angueira is a poet, novelist, researcher and professor of Galician Literature at the Universidade de Vigo. He has been the president of the Fundación Rosalía de Castro since 2012. His work—here from O Valo de Manselle, one of his more famed books was recently reissued in a 25th anniversary edition.

Luisa Castro is an award-winning author of numerous volumes of poetry, novels, and short fiction in both Spanish and Galician. Her first full collection in Galician, Baleas e baleas, first published in 1988, was recently published in recognition of the groundbreaking role it, and she, has had in the world of Galician poetry. is currently Director at Instituto Cervantes in Dublin.

Alba Cid is a poet, critic, researcher, and teacher. Her debut collection, Atlas, won the 2020 Miguel Hernández National Poetry Award, and many of her poems have appeared in English and other languages. She is a frequent literary commentator on Galician television and radio.

Lara Dopazo Ruibal has published four poetry collections and is co-editor and co-author of the experimental essay volume A través das marxes: Entrelazando feminismos, ruralidades e comúns. She won the Illa Nova Narrative Award with her short story collection O axolote e outros contos de bestas e auga (Editorial Galaxia, 2020). Claus and the scorpion, (trans. Laura Cesarco Eglin), was published by co.im.press in 2022.

Gonzalo Hermo (Rianxo, 1987) is the award-winning author of three poetry collections and one novel. He lives in Catalunya, working as a translator and teacher.

Rafa Lobelle is an award-winning poet and novelist. Collections include Andar ás apóutegas (Edicións Fervenza, 2014) and Cotodamina (Chan da Pólvora, 2019).

Antón Lopo is a poet, novelist, performer, and journalist, as well as the author of nine poetry collections and four novels, many of which have won the most prestigious awards in Galicia. He is also the director of the independent poetry publishing house Chan da Pólvora.

Andrea Nunes Brións is a Galician poet and a transfeminist political activist. She has published three collections. Corrente do esquecemento (2007), Todas as mulleres que fun, (Corsarias 2011), and Diáspora do amor balea (2018), co-authored with María Rosendo, which won the 2017 Erotic Poetry Prize of Illas Sisargas.

Pilar Pallarés was awarded National Poetry Award in 2019 for Tempo fósil (Fossil Time). Publications include Entre lusco e fusco (1979), Sétima soidade (1983), Livro das devoracións (1996), Poemas (2000), Leopardo son (2011).

Celia Parra (Ourense, 1990) is a poet and film producer. Her work has been translated into several languages and screened at numerous festivals across the word. https://celiaparra.com/en/bio/

Chus Pato is among Europe’s greatest contemporary poets. Her pentalogy Decrúa (Delve) is available in English, with all five books translated by Erín Moure: m-Talá, Charenton, Hordes of Writing, Secession, and Flesh of Leviathan.

Sara Plaza (Bustarviejo, Madrid, 1972) published her debut collection in 2021. She is currently carrying out a PhD in Lugo https://histagra.usc.es/en/persoas/68/sara-plaza-moreno

Xavier Queipo: Publications include: Extramunde (2011). Os kowa (2016); Corazón de manteiga (2020); Final feliz (2022); Nos dominios de Leviatán (2001); Glosarios (2004); Pegadas (2006); Home invisible (2017); Minutos para medianoite (2019).

Patricia Torrado Queiruga (Baroña). Poetry: Bolboretario do confinamento (2022); Herdar a fala (2021). Winner of several prizes for poetry and short fiction.

Ismael Ramos is the author of three poetry collections, and one co-written collection, two of which have been translated into Spanish for the renowned publisher La Bella Varsovia. He won the 2022 Miguel Hernández National Poetry Award for his book, Lixeiro (Light).

Miriam Reyes is a poet and visual artist. Writing primarily in Spanish, Sardiña (Sardine) was her first book to be published in Galician, and went on to form part of a broader anthology of her work published in 2021.

Manuel Rivas, Monte Alto, A Coruña, is a multi-award winning poet, novelist and
journalist. https://www.escritores.org/biografias/240-manuel-rivas

Inma Lopez Silva. Poet and critic. Works include: Rosas, corvos e cancións (2000);
Concubinas (2002); Neve en abril (2005); Non quero ser Doris Day (2006); New York, New York (2007); O libro da filla (2020).

Samuel Solleiro is a writer and translator. He has published several short story and poetry collections, as well as translations of prestigious authors such as Louise Glück, Mary Shelley, and Marcel Schwob.

Jesús Castro Yáñez is an award-winning poet and performer. His translation of Anne Carson’s The Anthropology of Water is forthcoming.

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