Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Estos Huesos Hermosos

Still he stalks that road in Andalusia
siempre esta noche
19 Agosto

A bleached-back beast
who plays at fat habits
and gorges at ragged bone buffets
while a wobbly, hobbled silence lifts
then bounds from mound to mound

Their gently dusted humps
eulogized by one faint sound:
an insistent insect hum

Cantan las moscas,
“Aquí están
los desaparecidos”

Seventy four years ago
esta tierra roja
had a terrible thirst

First, she slurped peppery blood
Then, she chewed their salted flesh
Then, she ground down their swollen organs
Lastly, she swallowed
their still tender names
and spit up
a gray welt of trunks to replace them

Aquí, aquí, aquí
he digs, gouging out from the deformed,
hardened bellies what remains he can
to pretty himself with
the discard of another worn-out piece

Perhaps he’ll take our splendid poet’s smoothed ribs
or the natty newspaperman’s polished hip
or that meddling mayor’s sturdy jaw

His parts always need changing, but
los años perdidos
filled so by unchecked appetite
offer no shortage of substitutes
estos huesos hermosos

I got an early start on this week's Poetry on Wednesday prompt, where Rallentanda asked us to take inspiration from the Spanish. August 19, 1936 was the date that Federico García Lorca was summarily executed by Nationalist militia in Granada. The exact whereabouts of his remains (and those of others who were "disappeared" during the Spanish Civil War) is still unknown.


Francis Scudellari said...

Here are the translations of the Spanish lines (in order of appearance):

always this night
August 19
The flies sing,
"Here are
the disappeared"
this red earth
here, here, here
the lost years
these lovely bones

I'm not a Spanish speaker, but know a little. I mostly used Google's translator to work out the rest. If you spot anything that's not correct, please let me know.

brenda w said...

Francis this piece is exquisitely crafted! I love it. Your explanation at the end filled in the blanks for me. But even without it, the gist was there.

I love the stanza that starts Cantan las moscas....

barbara said...

good and strong.
"a wobbly, hobbled silence lifts
then bounds" and the two following stanzas. Cantan las moscas

not sure why I'm so taken with the particular bone choices you made, but the polished hip really resonates.

flaubert said...

Francis Oh the lovely bones!
Nicely put!

Stan Ski said...

You did a great job of describing the process of 'dissapearing'.

Rallentanda said...

Reminds me of one of those Goya paintings.A powerful poem about a ghastly situation.

vivienne blake said...

A terrible time, about which I know too little. You have brought this story of death powerfuly to life.

Unknown said...

You have woven a beautiful poem, Francis, from these beautiful bones (as I prefer to translate them). Your Spanish phrases also add just the right sprinkle in such powerful ways. Terrifying and tender!

Francis Scudellari said...

@Brenda I'd been wanting to write about Lorca for some time now, so I'm glad Rall gave me some added incentive.

@Barbara I struggled with the bone choices actually. At first I was going to use more clinical names (clavicle, mandible, etc.) but I felt like these worked better.

@Pamela Thanks

@Stan It's amazing they've stay "disappeared" for so long. At least the poem is one way of recovering their histories.

@Rall Goya had some great visuals.

@Viv I don't know a lot about it either. I've just done some reading recently.

@Derrick I was going to put "beautiful" but Google's translator showed it as "lovely bones" and I thought it had a nice ring to it. Since then I've realized that's because there was a best-selling novel with that title :).