Me parece que el traducir de una lengua a otra es como quien mira los tapices flamencos por el revés, que aunque se ven las figuras, están llenas de hilos que las oscurecen, y no se ven con la lisura y tez del haz; y el traducir de lenguas fáciles, ni arguye ingenio ni elocución, como no le arguye el que traslada ni el que copia un papel de otro papel––dijo don Quijote.
Y aún así le dije a Enrique Fierro, simpatizante de los rinocerontes––Tomemos prestada la pelota de ping-pong de nuestros amigos Lorenzo y Margarita, y aquí escribámonos y traduzcámonos el uno al otro. Pero, tejamos reversos, traducciones traidoras, como falsos amigos, des faux amis que se miran, pero no se reconocen.

Monday, July 11, 2016


¡Con el escudo ingenuo de mi cuerpo
encender otro día
con calles para el humo y la nostalgia!
-Cecilio Peña

A wind blows and the tender curtain ruffles into itself. A window had opened accidentally when I googled "the best way to close a blog." Faint blues and greens show through the material, fainter at the folds, brighter on the plains in-between, and its sway adds activity to a scene that on a map of the city now seems static. It's a scene we know is still there, only separated from where we generally operate our lives. On the other side of that protective film, of our projected film, it's there cycling through its three acts compressed into one.
People are going and coming through a door, walking out and in on light feet, keeping a hand on the knob as they close it to manage the sounds of the latch behind them. Some sigh deeply, releasing their sadness, while others prepare to inhale it, bulging their chests and smiles with a concoction of gratitude and discomfort. Such is this zigzagging pilgrimage, the singular voyage of a simultaneous many turning fog into phone lines and lines into their feet tensely perched upon them, some necks stretched up, others slumped down; the long-standing law of superposition defied by this tableau of multiple generations intermingling about a central formation: you, the lumbering pillar who formed us in verse and in friendship. In this scene you ask for the time, the last-ditch unit for measuring life, counting down and yet still summing the hours, calculating time zones crossed and degrees of jet lag so that no one stays too long from their families. We continue to zig and zag at your insistence. Each time you open your eyes you find a new face from the past standing before you, and you can't tell what is real in this place of fluctuating consciousness; flesh and blood, a wishful hallucination, or the afterworld? Then you leave. Then we leave. Suddenly the wind blows the curtain and again people start going and coming through the door to you.
I try googling "the best way to close a window" so I can quiet the scene and get back to closing this blog. It's all a single story, the same as always, of attempting to see what we can't and looking away from what we can't stop seeing.

You and I began Foes Amis in 2010 following the example of our exemplary accomplices Lorenzo García Vega, Margarita Pintado, and their Ping-Pong Zuihitsu, all three long gone, now four, soon five, leaving me, as has become customary, watering flowers and writing a speech. This "bloguera aventura de estos perdedores convictos y confesos" (Fierro) gave us a place to put our friendship inside pretend back-and-forth betrayals, playful translations that at their base paved the way for a much greater conversation. You always refused to write your memoirs, but here they are, some of them, remembered the way you lived remembering them; one long day recounted in bits and pieces, more poignant in their bits and peacefulness, uneasy nostalgic congeries lacking the illusory bridges that would confidently put them in order, but also turn them inexact; a catalog of definitions for camaraderie, treachery, sadness, awe, doubt, respect, resentment, laughter; the pantheon of a mind exploring its pantheon; a tour of the flowerpots lining the road to Austin that bloom when you look at them, otherwise guarding only cinders.

And what was I doing here? Translating. But in your ever-generosity you let me translate myself too while at your side. Permission in the name of collaboration. There were little links from text to text, but each used the other to converse alone in a shared solitude made bluer and greener knowing that at least one person would read it. I chased the words and my feelings for them. I followed your memories like references. But what did I know? What do I know except that I wished to remember the stories as you remembered living them. To be able to recall for you if you needed me to, or to recall along with you, to be a trustworthy keeper of the biographical ores holding the emotions you rarely shared outright. Then, I wished to remember my own stories through yours and learn how to tell them. What do I know? We watched out for one another and you let me be there, you forgave my shortcomings, our incompatibilities pardoned by sensitivities; that comprehension, always unnerving and sought after in its eternal foreignness to me, we achieved it thanks to the preciousness of having someone to walk next to.

For six years we wondered when we would bump into each other here, inhabiting our intermittence. We saw each other, talked about meeting here, joked about how we rarely met here, and still we expected to see each other here. We were terrible at being constant and terrible at giving up. For a time you forbade me to come here, jumping into your guilt-ridden role of advisor to a slow-writing student, but we never abandoned it. It always sat waiting for us, just as we always sat waiting for us.

When a ping-pong ball comes to rest, its tapping bounces grow faster and faster. They become uncountable, inseparable, beyond detection. When a rhino comes to rest, its charging hooves stomp slower and slower, giving way to submission as if disappointed by time. Both continue unwinding momentum in their own way until movement and sound collide in silent stillness. They bump into each other, the ping-pong ball and the rhino, in some common space in-between, and like false friends they look at one another without recognizing their sameness. 

"The best way to close a blog" gives instructions on how to delete it, but that's not what I want. Feeling alado you have floated off, forever eluding me now, leaving me to be a lone foe ami with neither foe, nor ami. I find your absence in the strain of the uphill walk home, in a less generous world, in the silence of the telephone, in my cheek no longer rasped by hellos and goodbyes. Translation takes two, as does enmity and friendship. Foe Ami would be nonsensical, so let's close it, let it fade from the days to come, step by step, fainter each time, and make it a cinder that only blooms when we look at it. Exhaling my sadness, I'll leave quietly now, on light feet. I'll simply close the door but keep my hand on the knob, trying not to wake you with sound of the latch behind me.