“Bread’s Apologue”, by Antonio Hernández Pérez

a friend of mine gave me an old book of Cuban poetry. i decided to translate a random one. i might do more.


When she was talking with the angel’s word
I didn’t understand, I couldn’t understand
That one could be released by the gods,
That one could thunder without being a cloud,
Nor go into the deep like a diver
to rustle fish’s houses.

They’d been talking about the angels
With swords of fire, with demons,
They explained that the Earth, legally,
Is a space for expiation, that the snake,
So astute, invalidated the kingdom of purity,
The rising sun of the rose’s corola
Transfiguring the sloth of Eden.


I keep misunderstanding the word
Of the angels. This woman
That lost her son has forced me to see shadow.
At other moments I’ve been so much like a heaven.

It’s not that she has a snake’s face,
But this sad reptilian likeness
That thrives between pages,
Must have always been
In a darkened place.

Bread is on my table
Brought by free hands
That remembers me when I write,
When you raise the walls
That make a school
Or when you care for children
With a dreamless rifle.


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