Echo

By Pura López-Colomé b. 1952 Pura Lopez-Colome

Translated By Forrest Gander Read the translator's notes

It would not sound so deep
Were it a Firmamental Product—
Airs no Oceans keep—
—Emily Dickinson

Afloat between your lens   
and your gaze,   
the last consideration to go   
across my gray matter   
and its salubrious   
deliquescence   
is   
whether or not I’ll swim,   
whether I’ll be able to breathe,   
whether I’ll live like before.   

I’m caught in the bubble   
of your breath.   
It locks me in.   
Drives me mad.   

Confined to speak alone,   
I talk and listen,   
ask questions and answer myself.   
I hum, I think I sing,   
I breathe in, breathe in and don’t explode.   
I’m no one.   

Behind the wall   
of hydrogen and oxygen,   
very clear, almost illuminated,   
you allow me to think   
that the Root of the Wind is Water
and the atmosphere   
smells of salt and microbes and intimacy.

And in that instant comes   
the low echo   
of a beyond beyond,   
a language archaic and soaked   
in syllables and accents suited   
for re-de-trans-forming,   
giving light,   
giving birth to   
melanin   
hidden within another skin:   
the hollow echo of the voice   
which speaks alone.   

Source: Poetry (April 2009).

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2009
 Pura  López-Colomé

Biography

Pura López-Colomé was born in Mexico City in 1952, spent part of her childhood in Mérida, Yucatan, and attended high school in the US. She studied literature at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, publishing literary criticism, poems, and translations in a regular column for the newspaper Unomásuno. English translations of her work include No Shelter: Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2002), and Aurora (Shearsman Books, . . .

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Poems by Pura López-Colomé

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Language & Linguistics, Love

POET’S REGION Mexico

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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