Three Poems

Maria Cabrera Callís

Bad Timing

a bad time for you to turn up, gypsy boy,
with your sunlit gaze,
the cool breeze full in your hands,
and the thousand free falls
I spin into at your sight;
a bad time for laundry
when my hamper is so full;
a bad time for your wistful gaze
when I’m scared to give an inch,
for if I give in just a little
the moon and I go full . . .


Acid Orange

It all began with a couple of random drops, with that no you said from the kitchen that I confused with the sound of that faucet that never quite closed all the way. Not this week either, and the faucet that dripped more every day, and the sound of the water on the dirty dishes, that seemed to start to smart a little, with a prideful clunk on the defenseless plates, and I was worried. Since I was guileless, I ran to screw it tighter, maybe it could be fixed with a new gasket, a don’t give it another thought, and my small fingers, a bit cold and insecure, start undoing the valve, treating the parts with care, cleaning them, get that dirt out, meticulous nails insistently scraping, now for the new gasket, impeccably white where the old one had been old for many years now, always squeaking. The kitchen was clean, as always, and I looked serenely upon the finished job, as I dried my hands on a rag: it will all be fine, you did a thorough job, you were conscientious. But came the evenings and you, from far away, would put a tube of silence to my ear: Here, listen. You can’t hear a thing, you see? But I could hear the sound, stronger than ever. Really, no noise at all?, I would say, and you kept saying no, with a speck of anger, just a speck, that glinted fleetingly in your eyes just as the water glinted where the drop formed on the rim of the faucet. And me, apologetic, apologetic and a little obtuse, always late to understand things because the thing that happens never quite jibes with the word that pops into my mind. For me, everything turns into words, and then I can’t see anything but the words, and the sight makes me dizzy, as if I had been inflating one word balloon after another and the helium had gone to my head. And you were clever and from a distance you made a quick arid gesture with your hands that meant silence, so I believed you and told myself the whole noise thing was only me and my fixation. Insolent. A scold. A liar, a liar, a liar, thrice a liar, an acid orange with no juice, I told myself. And in a rage I stuck the cotton swabs in my ears: quiet, my head, be quiet, you’re evil, and questions make noise and noise is noisome.

Sarrià, January 1, 2015.

Song of the Workaday Day

tomorrow and the springtime
tomorrow three oceans
tomorrow the sea and the mountains
tomorrow all winter long
i will come and the road will be steep
i will come and you won’t be there
i will be a handful of letters
that you don’t know how to say
i will come with my alphabet
and you’ll walk right on by
i will be a flock of goats
herded up the dirt road
tomorrow doors will be closed
tomorrow and dirty sheets
i will come with a very long shadow
i will come and you will be gone
tomorrow i’m leaving home
tomorrow and the raging hellfire
tomorrow i will be daybreak
when i turn you’re no longer there
tomorrow the rare beast
and me lying in repose
tomorrow we won’t say a word
tomorrow no go, bro
tomorrow we’ll make small talk
tipsy from five to seven
tomorrow we’ll play nice
tomorrow from five to seven
tomorrow you’ll be a memory
tomorrow you’ll be last year
and among my snapshots
one memory’s gone astray
i walk along the border
of your slim effigy
tomorrow we’ll clear our heads
tomorrow no go, bro
tomorrow will be dawning
you and me lying in repose
and down on the corner
all the bars are closed
tomorrow you’ll be the jungle
and i a seething fang
tomorrow you made of branches
and my heart made of teeth
tomorrow neither love nor hatred
tomorrow you’re no longer here
and down on the corner
they are sweeping the streets.

translated from the Catalan by Mary Ann Newman