THE ACCURSED HOMECOMING
For D. Ignacio I. Gastélum
The village? Better not go back
to that subverted heart's desire
silenced and smashed by rattling fire.
The worthy ash and alder trees,
once noble domed, now amputees,
must hear the keening of the tower
riddled by winds of civil war.
And rifles have carved into the plaster
of every wall
of the village of disaster
black and ill-omened maps,
and the prodigal son returning
to his home on an evil night
may read there by the light
of an oily lampwick's burning
his hopes' and dreams' undoing.
When the rusty key with a clumsy creak
turns in the lock of the antique
main front door to the hall,
the modest pair of plaster bosses,
with sleepy-lidded glances at
one another, will say, "what's that?"
And I as one who intrudes
shall step inside to the delphic court
where the well-stone broods
with its leather pail, engrossed
in dripping its categorical drops
like the plaintive dirge of a ghost.
If the relentless, glad, reviving sun
heats up the young and studious streams
that bathed my old recurring dreams;
if ants are on the move,
or if the throaty clamour of the dove,
humming among the cobwebs, sounds above
the rooftops and subsides, a languid hum,
my thirst for loving shall be as a ring
embedded in the capstone of a tomb.
The new swallows, renewing,
with their beaks new to the art of the clay,
their nests in the season of spring;
under the opal blazoning
of a monkish close of day,
the calves new-calved who bellow
for the udder, forbidden to flow
of the ruminant pharaonic cow
the frightens the little fellow;
the bell-tower's new-fangled peal above
the altars made young and new;
the couples, two by two,
lovers in love;
the girls fresh and modest,
humble as cabbages,
planning their marriages,
reaching round back doors in the oddest
pools of dramatic lantern-light;
some young lady trilling
some old melody at some piano:
the sergeant's whistle shrilling...
...Deep down, reactionary sorrow.
Ramón López Velarde
Translator: Timothy Adès