24th March 2006

Juan Daniel Perotta

24th March 2006

All the horror
all the pain suffered
Makes me become a child again
brings back the sun
A flag is being raised
in front of that child I am
in whom I take refuge
the fright
Aurora is played
a cup of brewed maté warms the soul
makes the overall shine
which I put on again for a moment
to recover my country
that tale that one never believes
to the narrator
the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood
I sing again with my teacher
no tank will stop Illia
not even Ongania’s”
Growing up like this
being punched
to uniform thoughts
Names rummage through my mind
Those who left
It is always easier to erase names
to silence the conscience
Urondo dies again
Oesterheld left a cold wind
in our souls
which even poets of perennial singing
like villa crespo
cry for Marcelo / cry for Mars cellar
we cry
The tears wash this pain that never ends
justice that arrives late
that does not arrive
Why they threw us to the river?
anticipating an endless sea
that from the eyes falls
the memory?
What can be done to change places
replace them
in the shadows
load the rifles of hope
shoot against death
with them
for them
tiny pieces of heaven
hidden among dark clouds
of cruelty
How can one disappear
even for a while
to have this cup of hot coffee
a white sheet of paper
to talk about death
that does not disappear
Do you want to take my seat
my breath
at least for a little while
to warm your cold soul?
that became god
he gave you no-death
in which his feverish eyes
wandering in the shadows
look for you and call your name
like in a tango
Thirty years is nothing
This memory wound
does not disintegrate
like sand
It lasts
it lasts
And despite the oblivion which destroys
has killed my old dream
there is still a hidden humble
which is all the treasure of my heart

tr. Sabeli Ceballos Franco

Author’s Note: The verses in italics are from Alfredo Le Pera’s tango “Volver.”

Translator’s notes: (1) The verses in quotes were a political chant during Ongania’s dictatorship.  Arturo Umberto Illia was the 35th democratically elected president of Argentina.  He was overthrown by a military coup led by Juan Carlos Ongania.

(2) “Leaf ” is meant to represent Gelman himself as a leaf from the poet’s tree (poetree=poetry) whereas “Villa Crespo” was the neighborhood where Gelman was born and raised as a child.  In the following verse, “cry Mars cellar,” the author makes use of his poetic license to make his readers pronounce “Marcelo,” Gelman’s disappeared son during the dictatorship.  The same intention lies on the original version in Spanish (“lloran a mar cielo.”)