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from the April 2016 issue

Adam Gerber’s Good-bye

L'adéu d'Adam Gerber

I

Adam Gerber says good morning:
                                                            “Good morning, trees,
good morning, sky,
good morning, morning;
                                     good morning, window
sill who brings the day my way;
good morning, vinyl-slatted
blinds,
good morning, hanger
kept warm by my jacket (if it’s cold today
––and it’s cold today!), and I say good morning
to 6:05am
when I open my eyes and see the world
after having rubbed the sleep away.”

He has a cup
of milk and a Starbucks muffin,
puts an apple
in his pocket, opens the door and,
swelled with courage, says:
                                          “Good morning, Staten Island
winter;
good morning, cold,
and good morning, squirrel
who slips away into the hustle
of another day like today,
another day’s day.”
 

II

He hears an American woodcock
in the braches of a maple:
                                       “Good morning, Scolopax minor,
now that Cliff’s told me your name,
good morning, blackbird
and brown-headed cowbird.
Yesterday I saw
three seals at South Beach,
two raccoons and a lost possum
who walked on right along the path,
all day walking, always just like this.

(Here they are, into my notebook.)

                                         “Good morning, Victoria
Boulevard, and good morning, Bay Street.
The ferry’s already arriving
at St. George
                        ––good morning, terminal,
who makes me suddenly realize the day’s already started,
and to Captain Raspberry I’ll say good morning,
and to the homeless and the drunks I’ll say good morning,
and good morning to guy who runs the kiosk,
and good morning to the man in the boiler suit,
but to the police I won’t say a thing,
and I won’t say a thing to their dogs either ’cause they all wear a sign that says:
            DON’T PET ME I’M WORKING,
and to the girl who puts mascara on her armpits I’ll say good morning,
and to the sleeping tourist I’ll say good morning,
and to the boy busy writing emails I’ll also say good morning,
and to the woman listening to music I’ll say good morning,
and before getting on the subway I’ll stick my tongue out at the Statue of Liberty,
and to the Freedom Tower I’ll say what’s up
when’s it going to be your day.”
 

III

From one pocket, Adam
Gerber pulls out an apple;
from another, a comb
and a map of the
fifty states; from another,
a can of Red Bull,
a lighter and a
feather that looks like it’s from a seagull;
from the zipped lining,
a New York Times supplement,
a bag full
of shells, a pipe
and a notebook from the inner pocket
(of my black jacket)
where all of these
and some other things
have been noted.
 

IV

Who’ll want to listen
to what I say about Adam Gerber?
Who’d be able to feel
all I feel for Adam Gerber?
Who’d want to read
the draft of this poem?
 

V

One day, this is totally true,
Adam Gerber stepped out for a walk
not looking anywhere but for
one point six steps
in front of his feet.

Upon arriving in Manhattan he made his way up to Broadway, passing the Financial District, Chinatown and SoHo, Union Square, Times Square, Columbus Circle; he passed in front of Lincoln Center, the Upper West Side and further up; he crossed Columbia’s campus, Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd; crossed all of Harlem; passed the Hispanic Society, Washington Heights without thinking to stop there, Inwood without a glance at the Cloisters; he crossed the bridge, Marble Hill, 225th St.; he continued heading up through the Bronx, going round Van Cortland Park, from south to north, North Broadway, South Broadway; New Broadway, South Broadway, South Broadway again, underneath the New York State Thruway, until arriving at Albany Post Road; he kept going up and up and up until he sank into the continental United States.

And here ends my story of Adam Gerber
(I haven’t known a single thing about him since)
and here begins Adam Gerber beginning his own story,
far beyond mine, the legend.
 

© Melcion Mateu. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2016 by Rowan Ricardo Phillips. All rights reserved.

L'adéu d'Adam Gerber

I

Adam Gerber diu bon dia:
               "Bon dia, arbres,
bon dia, cel,
bon dia, dia;
                   bon dia, ampit
de la finestra que em porta el dia;
bon dia, persiana
de llistons de vinil,
bon dia, penja-robes
que la casaca abriga (si avui fa fred)
i avui fa fred!—i dic bon dia
a les 6:05
quan obro els ulls i veig el món
després de torcar-me'ls de lleganyes."
 

Pren una tassa
de llet i un muffin de l'Starbucks,
es fica una poma
a la butxaca, obre la porta i,
ple de coratge, diu:
                            "Bon dia, hivern,
d'Staten Island;
bon dia, fred,
i bon dia, esquirol
que t'esmunys entre el tràfec
d'un altre dia com avui,
d'un altre dia dia."

 

II

Sent una becada americana
entre les branques de l'auró:

                  "Bon dia, scolopax minor,
ara que en Cliff m'ha dit el teu nom,
bon dia, merla
i merla de cap bru.
Ahir vaig veure
tres foques a South Beach,
dos óssos rentadors i un opòssum perdut
que caminava tot seguint la via,
tota la vida així, caminant tot lo dia.

(Vet-los aquí, al meu quadern.)

                   "Bon dia, Victoria
Boulevard i bon dia Bay Street.
Ja està arribant el ferri
al barri de St. George
                                          —bon dia terminal,
que em fas caure que ja ha començat el dia—,
i al capità Rapsberry li diré bon dia,
i als homeless i els borratxos els diré bon dia,
i bon dia a l'amo del quiosc
i bon dia al senyor de la granota
i als policies no els diré res
i als seus gossos tampoc perquè duen un cartell que diu
                           DON'T PET ME I'M WORKING,
i a la noia que es posa rímel a les aixelles li diré bon dia,
i al turista adormit li diré bon dia
i al noi que escriu e-mails també bon dia,
i a la dona que escolta música li diré bon dia,
i a l'estàtua de la llibertat li trauré la llengua
abans d'agafar el metro
i a la Liberty Tower li diré què fas,
quan serà el teu dia."

 

III

D'una butxaca, Adam
Gerber es treu una poma;
d'una altra, una pinta
i un mapa dels
50 estats; d'una altra,
una llauna de Red Bull,
un encenedor i una
ploma d'ocell semblant a la gavina;
de la cremallera del folre,
un suplement del New York Times,
una bossa plena
de petxines, una pipa
i un quadern de l'infern
(de la casaca negra)
on hi ha anotades
totes aquestes
i algunes altres coses.

                                                                                                       

IV

Qui voldrà escoltar
el que jo digui d'Adam Gerber?
Qui podria sentir
tot el que sento per Adam Gerber?
Qui voldria llegir
l'esborrany d'aquest poema?

 

V

Un dia, això és totalment verídic,
Adam Gerber va sortir a caminar
i no mirava enlloc, només,
un punt a sis passes
per davant dels seus peus.

En arribar a Manhattan va pujar fins a Broadway, travessar el Financial District, Chinatown i Soho, Union Square, Times Square, Columbus Circle; va passar per davant del Lincoln Center, Upper West Side amunt; va creuar el campus de Columbia University, Martin Luther King Jr Blvd; va travessar tot Harlem; va passar de llarg la Hispanic Society, Washington Heights sense parar-hi esment, Inwood sense mirar The Cloisters; va travessar el pont, Marble Hill, carrer 225; va continuar pujant pel Bronx amunt, vorejant Van Cortland Park, del sud al nord, North Broadway, South Broadway; New Broadway, South Broadway de nou, per sota la New York State Thruway, fins arribar a l'Albany Post Road; va tirar amunt i més amunt i més amunt fins a endinsar-se
als Estats Units continentals.

I aquí acaba la meva història d'Adam Gerber
(no n'he sabut res més des de llavors)

i Adam Gerber comença la seva història,
més enllà de la meva, la llegenda.
 

© Melcion Mateu. By arrangement with the author. All rights reserved.

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