In The Blissful Pulp

Forrest Gander (1956 –

Voiced Stops

by Forrest Gander 
Summer’s sweet theatrum! The boy lunges through
The kitchen without comment, slams the door. An
Elaborate evening drama. I lug his forlorn weight
From floor to bed. Beatific lips and gap-
Toothed. Who stayed late to mope and swim, then
Breach chimneys of lake like a hooked gar
Pressing his wet totality against me. Iridescent
Laughter and depraved. Chromatic his constant state. At
Ten, childhood took off like a scorched dog. Turned
His head to see my hand wave from a window, and I too saw
The hand untouching, distant from. What fathering-
Fear slaked the impulse to embrace him? Duration!
An indefinite continuation of life. I whirled out wings. Going
Toward. And Lord Child claimed now, climbing loose.

The fireflies have been incredible the past 4 weeks.  Now, their time is waning and the frequency of their flashes dwindling as darkness sets in.  There will be late emerging cousins who will continue to blink in our yard for weeks to come but the firefly light show is more subdued than compared to July 1.   That’s the way with summer, things come and go quickly, its why I have to seize the moment and enjoy transient pleasures that lie at my feet, like strawberries and fireflies. 

Forrest Gander was born in California and tends to return to live there after adventures elsewhere, in places like Mexico and the Midwest.   He has degrees in both geology and English, suggesting an expansive curiosity that infuses his poetry.   He is an accomplished translator as well as author.  Gander won a Pulitzer Prize for his collection Be With in 2019.  He co-authored with John Kinsella the book Redstart: An Ecological Poetics, that merges his passions.  He is the editor of  a bilingual anthology of contemporary Mexican poets, and has published many translations including of Neruda and Bracho below.  

Translation is a complicated tango between authors.   Bracho, an accomplished author and poet from Mexico City, and Gander do that dance well.  I would prefer to read and understand Bracho in Spanish. Yet, I am grateful that Gander’s intelligence and wit were brought to bear to give me the opportunity to enjoy it in English.


Firefly Under the Tongue

By Coral Bracho (1951 – 
Translated by Forrest Gander 
I love you from the sharp tang of the fermentation;   
in the blissful pulp. Newborn insects, blue.   
In the unsullied juice, glazed and ductile.   
Cry that distills the light:   
through the fissures in fruit trees;   
under mossy water clinging to the shadows. The   
            papillae, the grottos.   
In herbaceous dyes, instilled. From the flustered touch.   
oozing, bittersweet: of feracious pleasures,   
of play splayed in pulses.
(Wrapped in the night’s aura, in violaceous clamor,   
refined, the boy, with the softened root of his tongue   
expectant, touches,   
with that smooth, unsustainable, lubricity—sensitive lily   
folding into the rocks   
if it senses the stigma, the ardor of light—the substance, the arris
fine and vibrant—in its ecstatic petal, distended—[jewel   
pulsing half-open; teats], the acid   
juice bland [ice], the salt marsh,   
the delicate sap [Kabbalah], the nectar   
             of the firefly.)