Jeannette L. Clariond - Poems


Jeannette Clariond

MINA 1004

Burn, I saw my grandmother burn. August. Chihuahua, 1963. She burned, inside and out, in the street, Mina 1004. I saw my father bundle her in a bed sheet, the mattress burned; the curtains, the carpet, her clothing darkened. He took it all in. “Don’t make a sound, your mother is tired.” I saw him leave with mourning that evening in August with his black tie. He took it all in. Ashes and weeping, he took it in. Grandmother’s smoke in the entrance, my aunts sipping, bitter, the curds from the coffee. They had to remove the blackness that hurt, to dissolve the salt, the weeping, to hug one another, to suffocate the trembling of the voyage, listen to Paul Anka, for example, for lack of a pulse, to scratch out the disc at 45 revolutions per minute. I lived by moments, at moments everything was bloody-purple; the mother, the fatigue, the branches of the poplars. Next the glass, the glass in the cedar, the face burned beneath the smoke. My mother burned as well. In tears, her smile was extinguished: “Arrange my hair, she told me, let me go out to see if the laundry is dry”. I was afraid. That her slow steps would not return, of the stiffness of the leaf, of the silent gnawing, of the dry weight of the ivy, without its wall, of the flowerpot in the kitchen, without flowers. Of this blind quarter with its death I was /afraid. Of my own self and the filtration of the wind that carried the dust of the sycamores.

THE HOUSE

The house, that uncertain place. The girl-child without a lamp, white the beginning, the revelation burns in silence. All beginning is white, the composition of the form, silent the fog, the tree. The girl-child silent, the height, the air. All beginning is white, the unforeseen disaster. The silent fog, whose music is silence, dispersed syllables.

AUNT JEANNETTE

She used to read coffee grounds and the money she gave to the blind. The splendor from the window was shining across her thinning hair and reaching the demitasse that was sustaining her hand. “I see torment”, she said one day. I did not know if she was speaking of me. My mother was confining her pain in books. And Jeannette, who bore her destiny in her name, preferred reading the grounds. From evening to evening in her house the line of desperate minds: whether a voyage, whether the lover, whether death, an encounter, whatever extraordinary thing that would make extraordinary her simple life. She, Jeannette, was the imperfect essence of love, blind among the blind keeping vigil over torment. “Write it all down,” I told her, “write down all that you see.” She never listened, absent, beneath the smudge of the moon.

**********

MINA 1004

Arder, yo vi a mi abuela arder. Agosto. Chihuahua, 1963. Ella ardió, su fuera y su dentro, ardió en la calle Mina 1004. Vi a mi padre envolverla en una sábana, el colchón ardía; las cortinas, la alfombra, su vestido ennegrecieron. Todo lo recogió. “No hagan ruido, su madre está cansada”. Lo vi de luto esa tarde de agosto con su corbata negra. La recogió. Ceniza y llanto recogió. El humo de la abuela en el zaguán, las tías sorbiendo, ásperos, los grumos del café. Había que borrar lo oscuro que dolía, disolver la sal, el llanto, abrazarse, sofocar el temblor del viaje, escuchar a Paul Anka, por ejemplo, a falta de pulso rayar el disco de 45 revoluciones por minuto. Por instantes vivía, por instantes todo fue púrpura: la mujer, el cansancio, las frondas de los álamos. Después el vidrio, el vidrio en el cedro, el rostro quemado bajo el humo. También mi madre ardió. En lágrimas su sonrisa apagada: “Arréglame el pelo, me dijo, déjame salir a ver si ya está seca la ropa”. Tuve miedo. De que sus pasos lentos no volvieran, de la tersura de la hoja, del sigiloso carcomer, del reseco peso de la hiedra, ya sin muro, del florero en la cocina, sin flores. De ese cuarto ciego con su muerte tuve miedo De mí misma y el filtrarse del viento que se llevaba el polvo de los sicomoros.

LA CASA

La casa, ese sitio incierto. La niña sin lámpara, blanco el origen, arde en silencio la revelación. Todo origen es blanco, la composición de la forma, callada la niebla, el árbol. La niña callada, lo alto, lo aire. Todo origen es blanco, el azar. Callada la niebla, cuya música es silencio, sílabas dispersas.

LA TÍA JEANNETTE

Ella leía la taza del café, el dinero lo daba a los ciegos. El resplandor de la ventana atravesaba su escasa cabellera hasta alcanzar la demitasse que sostenía su mano. “Veo tormenta”, dijo un día. No supe si hablaba de mí. Mi madre en los libros encerraba su dolor. y Jeannette, que llevaba en el nombre su sino, prefería la lectura del café. Tarde a tarde en su casa la fila de mentes desesperadas: que un viaje, que un amante, que la muerte, un encuentro, cualquier cosa que volviera extraordinaria su vida simple. Ella, Jeannette, era la esencia imperfecta del amor, ciega entre ciegos velaba la tormenta. “Escríbelo todo”, le dije, “escribe todo lo que ves”. Nunca me escuchó, ausente, bajo el humo de la luna.

Jeannette L. Clariond. Poet, translator and editor. Her published collections of poetry include Mujer dando la espalda (finalist for the Ramón López Velarde National Poetry Prize, 1992), Desierta memoria (winner of the Efraín Huerta National Poetry Prize, 1996), Todo antes de la noche (winner of the Gonzalo Rojas National Poetry Prize, 2001), Leve sangre; March 10, NY (which has been presented in dance and music in Madrid); 7 visiones (coedited with Chilean poet Gonzalo Rojas); and the retrospective anthology Astillada claridad (UANL, 2014). She is also the author of the prose memoir Cuaderno de Chihuahua (Fondo de Cultura Económica). Her poem“Apenas se oía el polvo" (from her collection Leve sangre) was sung by mezzosoprano Marta Knoor in 2015, with music by Ramón Paus, during the IV Ciclo de Cámara del Principal, at the Auditorio del Conservatorio Jesús Guridi in Vitoria. She has translated W. S. Merwin, Charles Wright, Anne Carson (2013 Translation Award), Primo Levi, Alda Merini, Roberto Carifi, William Wadsworth, and the complete works of the poet Elizabeth Bishop, for the first time in Spanish. In 2003 she founded the publishing house Vaso Roto Ediciones, which she has directed since then. Some of her books and part of her writing have been translated into English, French, Portuguese, Romanian, Greek, Italian, Bulgarian and Arabic.


Follow us @cccamericasorg
  • Facebook Basic Black
  • Twitter Basic Black
  • Black LinkedIn Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon