Xby David Huerta, translated from the Spanish by Jamie McKendrick
Heaven’s kitchen is supplied with infernal utensils,
sagging, lilac-coloured cauldrons, fat forks
between whose prongs are tangled strings
of archangels’ spit and frayed voices
that rose from the left-hand shirt of God.
A soup was being cooked when Love appeared,
a rare broth sprinkled with flaming scriptures
and glints of seaside holidays. The oil became fire,
seeped into the skin and stayed, vigorous,
iridescent, in the eyes of the blessed.
The elaborate coven stopped work: elongated odours
invaded the heavenly kitchen; pure spices
for the feverish construction of Spring
and its rippling; Aprils whose flowers are teeth,
whose jaws are crammed with dragonflies;
Eros’s entire wardrobe for the Salad
with its curled coiffure; the brilliance of stabbed embraces
and the sea of hands, blue as can be, multiplying.
David Huerta was born in Mexico City in 1949, son of poet Efraín Huerta. He is one the leading poets of the generation that first came to prominence during the 1970s in Mexico. He published his first book of poems, El Jardín de la luz [The Garden of Light] (1972), while still a student at UNAM. It has been followed by numerous collections, among them: Cuaderno de Noviembre [November Notebook] (1976), Huellas del civilizado [Traces of the Civilized] (1977), Versión [Version] (1978), El espejo del cuerpo [The Mirror of the Body] (1980) and Incurable [Incurable] (1987), a long poem in nine parts that encourages the reader to participate in constructing the meaning of the poem.
Aside from his poetry, David Huerta has translated works from Italian and English, and is an editor of the Mexican publishing house Fondo de Cultura Económica. He writes a column for the Mexican weekly Proceso, and teaches literature at the Universidad Autónoma de México. His latest book, El correo de los Narvales, is dedicated to the work of Pablo Neruda.
In 2006 David Huerta was awarded the prestigious Xavier Villaurrutia Prize for the new edition of Versión and for his lifelong contribution to Mexican literature. He is an active member of the Sistema Nacional de Creadores.
Read the Spanish original, listen to the poem in both languages, and learn more about the process at the Poetry Translation Centre website. Look for Huerta’s forthcoming outpost in the next issue of Molossus partner World Literature Today.