The International Literary Quarterly

November 2007

Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture. Two poems and a translation by Suzanne Jill Levine

Traveling South

to the mouth of the Plate
where rusty cargo ships lean
quietly in the brown waters
where the abandoned ferry once
shuttled from Argentina to Uruguay,
two countries parted by the churning delta. Now
Sunday idlers stroll along the docks of the Boca,
pick among the trinkets in the flea market,
in the sun on the peeling pink
streetcorners of a city once
rich with beef and British convoys
now a vast patchwork of ruins
but some grand old buildings
stand there still,
refracting the earth-drenched sun.




Suzanne Jill Levine writes: "Duet"  is a dance of words between myself and Marjorie Agosin. In the early 80's I was among the first to translate poems of hers into English, and some lines in this poem are actually from those early exercises.

something black that comes from a feeling of conflict

Waiting at the night-dark window a calm
Penelope would knit her brow
sea-scrawling and scribbling
while winter's stubble grew &
the bald flayed reaper mimicked
signs of fear between footsteps in the snow

Remembering wasn't dangerous.
she remembered her
along the ancient skin
of one whose eyes
she can no longer see


Eve of the Snow

by Ulalume Gonzšlez de Leon (Mexico)

No, not yet
indecision hovers
over a waiting garden

even-spaced branches
bare like my page
leaves without words

in my skull or the wind
the doors of the snow
open and close

branches syllables sounds
crossing the threshold toward
a statue's pale light

between annunciation
and epiphany
the kingdom of empty promise opens

no, not yet
the line of a branch
breaking in the air

breaks this line