On Translation, by Mónica de la Torre

Not to search for meaning, but to reedify a gesture, an intent.

As a translator, one grows attached to originals. Seldom are choices
so purposeful.

At midday, the translator meets with the poet at a café at the intersection
where for decades whores and cross-dressers have lined up at
night for passers-by to peruse.

Not a monologue, but an implied conversation. The translator’s
response is delayed.

The translator asks, the poet answers unrestrictedly. Someone
watches the hand movements that punctuate the flow of an
incomprehensible dialogue.

They’re speaking about the poet’s disillusionment with Freud.

One after another, vivid descriptions of the poet’s dreams begin to
pour out of his mouth. There’s no signal of irony in his voice.
Nor a hint of astonishment, nor a suggestion of hidden meanings,
rather a belief in the detritus theory.

“Se me aparece un gato fosforescente. Lo sostengo en mis brazos
sabiendo que no volveré a ser el mismo.”

“Estoy en una fiesta. De pronto veo que el diablo está sentado frente
a mí. Viste de negro, lleva una barba puntiaguda y un tridente en
la mano izquierda. Es tan amable que nadie se da cuenta de que
no es un invitado como los otros.”

“Anuncian en el radio que Octavio Paz leerá su poema más reciente:
‘Vaca . . . vaca . . . vaca . . . vaca . . . vaca . . . vaca . . . vaca . . .'”

“Entro a un laboratorio y percibo aromas inusitados. Aún los recuerdo.”
The translator knows that nothing the poet has ever said or written
reveals as much about him as the expression on his face when he
was asked to pose for a picture. He greets posterity with a devilish
grin. To the translator’s delight, he’s forced to repeat the gesture at
least three or four times. The camera has no film.

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