from Chesterton

Alejandro Crotto

The Golden Cypress

There is a lemon-colored cypress tree
behind the pool. It’s noon
and the air shimmers in the summer heat,
the steady glare. The grown-ups
have left for mass
to pray to God, invisible and holy;
meanwhile, we cousins leap into the water,
we stretch out with our laughter in the sun.

Later, I went into the golden cypress. It was
another world in there, like seeing
a different side of things, sustaining them. Beyond,
the yellow plumes in the hot air; inside,
a frame of branches slick with resin and the light, the cool
and sifted light, which remains.

If You Go and Look at a Hen For an Hour or Two, You’ll Find in the End That the Mystery Has Not Diminished but Rather Increased

Its feet yellow and strong.

Its walking rhythm with that kind of ludicrous efficiency,
halting from time to scrabble in the dirt.

Its compact structure in bright feathers, black,
nearly blue when the sun strikes.

Crowned in red, with its beak
exactly the same yellow as its feet,
eyes quick.

As it moves forward on the ground, it scrapes and pecks,
it lifts its head every so often, moving it a bit:
an inexorable atavism
for spotting potential predators.

And now it stretches, flapping vigorously in place.

To perk up, maybe,
to get its circulation going, or something of the sort.


The sea crept up the shore and yielded stalks and trunks,
the branch that stretches out, its pears seeded with pear trees,
but seeking, too, new fruits and flowers,
as the fish egg longs for swallows.

As, engendering, rotting,
the ancient shrews bore dromedaries,
dolphins, elephants of extravagant
trunks. As the strange tide,
slowly venturing new forms
through centuries of desire,
sculpts hands,
wings, the vivid peacock’s tail,
the rabbit’s ear, the tadpole
that becomes a frog to lay
new eggs tomorrow,
red grapes,
the thistle,
the lion’s eye
and the dragonfly’s,
what makes a tree
reach for the light;
its leaves, their female thirst,
the limpid, pungent sap,
your sea-salt blood.

translated from the Spanish by Robin Myers