"Ignoro lo que seré del enfermo esta mujer, que le besa
y no puede sanarle con el beso, le mira y no puede sanarle
con los ojos, le habla y no puede sanarle con el verbo?"
"I don't know who this woman is to this sick man, for she
kisses him and can't heal him with her kiss, she looks at him
and can't heal him with her eyes, she talks to him and can't
heal him with her words?"
César Vallejo 'Las ventanas se han estremecido' (1923(?)-1937)
My cousin, this fish with wings,
this two-time fish of the lobotomies,
(this dumbdrughappy talking-fish):
what's this, it says
at the entrance, at the collision
and conjunction of the exits
- a nobody!
This sneering fish with wings
sharpening on politics,
fish of my ungodly soul,
this sea filled with my silence!
Here is my answer.
First i pick up the ice hammer.
i shatter the glass of my many faces
hanging from the unfurled street
like a tree of lost lives.
Next i close all the books
for i see only my selves
(these workers endlessly creating their own industry)
in their dead.
And so the dead live on
eating away at my own life:
this life without wings,
this life, sadly, brother, with no friends.
This is my answer
twisted into ribs,
the caress of the machete in my many faces,
on garbage day, at the sad end of town,
at the most sorrowful end of this time of sighs.
My fish, this once and future
child of the wings,
cries deeply and silently in need:
for i have shouldered him not an inch,
nor could i offer him one piece of bread to eat
but my own ugly face.
Always why, fish! Always why, human!
O my brother.
So still he asks and asks and the stars
come out and the stars fall
and no one writes of this:
this flesh of my winglessness
their murderous torture of the nobodies
in the name of democracy.
In this way the walls scratch my skin.
And the day in its cardboard shapes
is beneath my contempt.
I say, before this question
- another one!
How come we are here at all?
For i've proven in your science of the losses,
(this anarchy of my aches)
in the whispering of winds whistling through my bones
how all the world fills with all these countless ones
not buried in books,
not carved on stone,
all the nameless ones i breathe
with this emptiness i carry
instead of a name.
All those, brother, don't hang from the street
like lives lost hanging from a tree.
Even though, they have eaten and eaten
and are never full.
Eat and eat, voracious feeding from our life,
from my life, and yours too,
sister of solitude,
(saintly sister of my unequal halves,
this fraction that will never be a whole:
you, that falls between my love and the abyss!)
O you, who i long to hold in this lost world
sinking between our sighs.
O how they eat, these unearthly ghosts!
But what’s it like? like a child,
this incessant instant of the fishes,
with an endless question in its genes,
and all our snakelike selves,
and watch: these dreams i spit in daytime
between car exhausts
and the dawn:
listen to the wind scream.
Listen to all the cancers groan.
Listen to the emptying of streets!
How the air is heavy with cigarette smoke
and it is hard to breathe
among dead men and
the dust of dead men
- this single meal of many mouths.
Then with my glass skulls
shelled and washed with rain 100% proof
i am as empty 'til they use me
as horse or hand or mouth
in the forgotten morning
listening to their words
arms in splints! and the world,
only this pretty thing
on its crutch of lies.
For these aches speak
and my bones are already naked
and half in the grave already...
...how is there
this silence between our thighs?
isn't that why the words shudder?
the books tear themselves in two?
the walls shake with our trembling?
and time passes
never to return?
And now, love, between you and me
there is this hollow sound
no one will
breaking my chest in waves,
in mouthfulls not yet born.
In this way, fish,
we are risen from the sea each morning.
In this way, i am coming to understand
in the rootless tree of my legs
we are all nobody.
We are all, both you and me together,
we must be on the verge.
Now i understand
(between gasps like a landed fish)
why we fly earthwards
both flesh and spirit!
why the torture won't stop
why this shuddering
as i hold you endlessly
like leaves softly
shaking the tree.
Séamas Carraher was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1956. He lives on the Ballyogan estate, in south County Dublin, at present. Recent publications include poems in Istanbul Literary Review and Pemmican. Previously his work has been published in Left Curve (No. 13, 14 & 20), Compages, Poetry Ireland Review, Anthology of Irish Poetry and the Irish Socialist (newspaper).