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from the September 2020 issue

Birds in Flight, 1965

"Birds in Flight, 1965" is one of four winning poems selected by David Tomas Martinez for the 2020 Words Without Borders—Academy of American Poets Poems in Translation Contest.

Words without Borders · Poems-in-Translation Contest: "Birds in Flight, 1965, " by Enrique Villasis, tr. Bernard Capinpin

Listen above to Bernard Capinpin read his translation of Enrique Villasis's "Birds in Flight, 1965"

Not as a multitude, but as one. Caught in the rush of an instant only to be contained
In an illusion of light once depicted in a holographic existence
And to give weight to the meaning of lightness. Here, he pointed

To the directions of his imprisonment. How the wings
Have too much dulled and to take wing must orchestrate
The shattering of mirrors: fragile, fine, acicular. The yellowing

Brightness is in the proximity to the light, like how one recognizes beneath
The lightbulb the chick nesting within an egg, as to trace how thick
Illusions go in the labyrinth of plurality. Now, no matter what,

They seem a bouquet of bougainvilla on the palms, dreaming to be set free.

This may be true of desire. One first keeps to heart
The simplest things one loved in childhood: the chase after
A kite broken loose, not minding the prickling thorns,

The mimosa’s curtsey to the sole. That is what freedom simply is.
Not playing patintero with shadows. Not captive to the multiplicity
Of false geometry. Almost brittle but original.

“Birds in Flight, 1965” © Enrique Villasis. By arrangement with the author. English translation © 2020 by Bernard Capinpin. All rights reserved.


Click here to listen to poet Enrique Villasis read this poem in the original Filipino

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