Blai Bonet

In my thirty years, I’ve had one furrow:
a window boy, at 74 carrer de Palma, Santanyí.
My father bred horses and every night he’d lug home
a rough hare, its stomach slit and stuffed with brush.

I was raised bitter, like juniper dust,
my head coarse and lofty, like a goat’s.
My marked ribs left unmarked by leather,
my brow quick to chafe with words.

I met sin before I met the shore. A girl wept
between the walls of a home and her knees.
This was before I’d grown into a tall boy
who learned, alone, of his body, his pungent grammar.

When with a crack in my tragic, matted voice
a rooster assailed the dawn of life,
a sorry wagon took me to a bleak asylum,
where they hid me in a cassock.

October was flush with pale plantains,
like the yellow ears of water’s Latinists.
I walked with Christ, my mother, a sack of clothes,
and a vicar in anointed brass.

At school, like the green and prying
bindweed, the seven gifts sank me,
and summer’s confessors, with their polished eyes
and birdlike noses, sniffed my weary she-wolf.

The lion’s land with its swamps and foxes
became my boiled and pale adolescence.
Too frail to stand the sun and fire of life,
blood was in me a tragic camellia.

For ten years I was a sallow, slumbering man.
I cried out every day of my existence.
And ten years of dozing on a deep heart
made of my instrumental body a human soul.

Under my glassy skin, Christ rotted
like a dead dog struck down by lightning.
I’d climb the roof and behold the church tower,
its green bell. I’d remember.

Forever scorched by the avid God who crowns the skin
of ideas with thorns. The avid God who nails his fists
to wood. The avid God who will always
turn the other cheek but never show his face.

I shall go without my nightly and daily bread,
without shoes and fire and an address,
but never evil and never God, nor this yearning
to be good, like the sea and its sailing lines.

The wheel that molded my elbows and knees
and poisoned my cupful of words
is the implacable rain of natural love
and the lion sullen from being a Catalan of Spain.

I have loved like a century of imperious men.
Every bloody blow of mine has had a face
and its own name, a fistful of letters, a portrait,
a brisk sea that leaves things unsaid: it no longer matters.

Faithfulness, forthright like a skeleton, forged
my youth with a commanding tongue,
but I’d saw my elbows off if I reckoned
I’d never be heard by all the men of Spain.

I would strip this noble Iberian joy
of my occult marrow and the soul’s three lions,
just so peace can erupt on this land that has
no holy infant but which remains ever pregnant.

I take the broad Spain of Josep Pla and Azorín
with the candid peace of a whitewashed home;
the resilient Spain of Otero and Goytisolo,
Josep Espinàs, Espriu, and Sagarra.

Now, at five o’clock on this August morning,
with Montnegre’s steel and Breda lit up,
I accept the scandal of this masculine pain
for the sun has risen before this white leaf.

translated from the Catalan by María Cristina Hall

With permission from Edicions de 1984.