By Eunice Odio

Translated by Keith Ekiss and Sonia P. Ticas

from Issue 11: Power


 

I

And the grain mixes with the drop of flesh,
the high provider of touch and hearing,
at whose white contact the salts stir,
and phosphorous resumes its physical joy.

All neighbors of the flesh
—form, fields of wheat, emptiness—
are gathered in its immediacy
to nourish the time of the verb that matter demands,
the verb of the deep, innumerable child,
treading toward the ecstasy of the first movement.

II

In the first movement,
a colloid noise endured until it rotated motionless;
and the breath ran beside the nimbus,
with the foot of a fixed and endless Throne.

The curled pearl undulated forward,
and the calm, childlike parents,
feeling for the shining contact,
touched their favorite loving organs.

III

Then

space opened and remained deserted.

A seed blinked
and an eternal eye elapsed.

IV

The bone declined to whiteness
and discovered itself liquid,
flooding its own future cavities,
and their coming, bitter smells;
but a summer full of fish and mangers
transformed what were merely vestments into a solid presence,
and a great cycle of’paternal flesh was fulfilled.


Eunice Odio was born in San José, Costa Rica, in 1919. In the 1940s she launched her career reading poems on Costa Rican radio under the pseudonym Catalina Mariel. Her first collection, Los Elementos Terrestres, was published in Guatemala in 1947 as the winner of the Premio Centroamericano “15 de Septiembre”. Additional volumes—Zona en Territorio del Alba and El Tránsito de Fuego—followed. In 1959 Odio moved to New York City for several years. She wrote a poem in praise of the Statue of Liberty, an elegy for Louis Armstrong, and a tribute to the Hudson River. After New York, Odio moved to Mexico City where she lived for the rest of her life. From 1964 until her death, she collaborated on the review Zona Franca. She died in 1974 at the age of 54.

Keith Ekiss is the author of Pima Road Notebook, published in 2010 by New Issues Poetry & Prose. In addition, his poems have appeared in Blackbird, Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, New England Review, and elsewhere. The recipient of a Witter Bynner Poetry Translation Residency from the Santa Fe Art Institute for his work on the Costa Rican poet Eunice Odio, his translations have appeared widely. Tavern Books will publish his translation of volume I of Odio’s The Fire’s Journey in late 2012. Ekiss has been a Jones Lecturer in Creative Writing at Stanford since 2007, where he teaches courses in reading and writing poetry and other genres. Sonia P. Ticas lives in Tigard, OR, and is an assistant professor of language and Latin American literature at Linfield College.

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