Skip to content
Give readers a window on the world. Click to donate.
from the March 2013 issue

What Do You Expect, Heart?


What do you expect, heart? What do you want from me?
To be like Zeno of Elea, who bit off his own tongue
in one bite
and spit it out at the tyrant?

The good angel bad
angel speaks: the bearable
the unbearable.

They look as if the quiet
captured them (a sign of danger?
how light falls at a given moment?
through a work or an internal
distillery?) in a comb of rich honey.

About what is other, I accept everything 
that I do not unbearably dislike.
I accept it from the heart (who could accept
the unbearable in their heart —is that
what is unbearable—nearly inhuman?)

              What makes someone someone,
              unique, is impossible to communicate.

Some words talk
of attitude; tolerant attitude
for those who are able, the other
is tolerated. Who
are you?

The good angel bad
angel speaks: what
an ideology.

The history of women demonstrates that history
has been tolerant of women (the rung
where their lives evolved
was a rung below the rung
where the lives of the men
they depended upon evolved).  Protection
soothes if it does not kill—is that love?

The sun dilutes us releases us and retreats
like sugar candies dissolves us not sweet
at all, in the heated sea we come undone.

            A thing must be burnt in so that it stays in the memory:
            only something that continues to hurt stays in the memory.

Crows next to sheep
their interest rests in excrement
young poplars transparent and green.

The voice of loss speaks: how strange not to hear
the voice again.

Those birds in transit,
egrets, herons, and egrets
at the bottom of the pool, the lagoon,
seemed to be angels.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. 

Dogs prowl around
a fox, the world
opaque with thick
identifying odors.

Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. 

What do you know about green, sentinel,
the green of winter, fear?
Pure firefly or sap
rise up almost without topsoil
hollow against the light.

From Lo solo del animal. © Olvido García Valdés. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Catherine Hammond. All rights reserved.


Read more from the March 2013 issue
Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.