Someone’s going to dream about this.
Head in the second house, the body
centered: a brick, a bar,
equidistant from two gringos.
We were about to go somewhere else
when an alarm began to signal
“In that photo”—it tells me— “fix
the pit stains on my shirt.”
Climate change is listening
to summer’s hit song
in the winter.
A word like antiretroviral
in even the most visionary poem.
Age’s paralyzing venom.
The days, a perfect succession
of trial and error.
Those flares at the end
of eight year-old hands
gesturing toward a star-filled sky.
In my memory of abuela Belén’s house—
the dog sniffs our crotches
(maybe I’m remembering this all wrong)
and at the same time the sound of a train
is invisible as the crickets.
If nothing else, there’s still science
and the drilling of mosquitos
upsetting another sweaty night’s sleep.
Social democracy—the rallying,
those flags, you
leaning half your body out
of that Datsun 120Y.
Margarine on a piece of toast
dunked in a cup of coffee.
The drizzle like infinitesimal pinpricks,
the sensation of __________.
That’s where the clouds arrange
themselves in formation,
the sky’s own stone path
in motion above our heads.
Farther on, blades
enormous and slow
lose their synchronization.
We had to take the long way back.
Someone was humming
a song—was it you?
I think it was you—
unlearning the lyrics
because we’d made up our own,
and from the backseat,
the smell of rotisserie chicken
came on in waves.
In my mind, the child asks
How much longer?
And in slow motion, the flare
darts across the sky until
it’s swallowed by the star-filled night.
You can see a few lights now.
Translated from the Spanish by Julia Guez and Samantha Zighelboim
Luis Chaves (Costa Rica, 1969) is a poet, novelist, chronicler and translator. Chaves’ works have been published in Costa Rica, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Germany, Italy and Slovenia. His work has been awarded the National Poetry Prize by Ministry of Culture, Costa Rica, 2012. The Akademie Schloss Stuttgart in Germany awarded him the “Jean Jacques Rousseau” grant in 2011. He was a 2015 fellow for the Artists in Berlin Program.
Julia Guez has received a Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University, a Fulbright Fellowship and the “Discovery”/ Boston Review Poetry Prize. Her work has recently appeared in POETRY, Circumference, PEN Poetry Series and Apogee. Guez works at Teach For America-New York and lives with her family in Greenpoint. She teaches creative writing at Rutgers University.
Samantha Zighelboim’s poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Boston Review, PEN Poetry Series, Fanzine, Circumference: A Journal of Poetry in Translation, and Stonecutter, among others. She is working on her first collection of poems, as well as co-translating the work of Costa Rican poet Luis Chaves with the writer Julia Guez. She teaches creative writing at Rutgers University, and lives in New York City.
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