The Refugees

Saturday, July 15, 2023


Mary Hawley
      As if nobody heard in the heart’s crypt the bones of the barbarous bird, nobody is nobody. Nobody the senator of suspenders. You are nobody, hat of receptions, and you, medusa hat, your elusive mercy conspiring with another class of nothing. The happy of today are nobody multiplied, and nobody the vagabond antelope dancing in underground clubs. I am nobody. You, the vocalist in the modern mouth of nobody. And you, poetry, goose widow of parasols, spies’ lantern behind the hearse.
      Why this about the taint of spirits, why would it be said now that behind this door the refugee’s eyes are wailing on trays. Put that way pleasure and ice cubes are corruption in the precincts of music, noteworthy dates in misfortune’s memory.

        Someday what I write now will be intelligible. Someday, on the perimeter of known things, the era of suffering that made visible a market in wounds will be understood as the age of a ripped sheet, orbit of our nakedness covered in insects like the tongue of a large dead fish.

     Once nobody is nobody in the fossil teeth of the universe, and nobody, meaning us, ruminants of the pain of survivors, we’ll have uprooted the word destiny to refer to compassion, we’ll have buried mercy’s cargo and the hyena’s feces, we’ll have accepted infamy as the conduct of the age.

     Once nobody is nobody and there are no traces of anyone nor fruits of anyone in the markets of thought, this will be forgotten, this must also be forgotten by the aerial recorder of all that vibrates in the cosmos, and the putrefaction of our silence and the costume jewelry of diplomats around mass graves.

     Nobody is nobody, the writing of eloquent figures that add pain to disgrace, blue ribbon of those meticulous files. Nobody is nobody under the lens of the archivists. Nobody with a fistful of dirt, the one who offers and the lucid one, the borrowed invisible boss in all of us, fleeing the columns of smoke in the taxicab of our conscience.

     So what good are you, poetry of pages set ablaze by the embers of justice, old poetry of the herbalists, mustard of the consuls who preached the rising of the sun. Where to, whom toward, venerable Whitman, by the placid river of sacred thoughts the woman submerges her baby in the water before the incineration.

     As if nobody heard the bones of the barbarous bird, it seems that here nobody is nobody. Nobody the silence and its bucket of lime upon the disappeared. Greed, it says here the word greed.


About the Translator: Mary Hawley is an American poet, fiction writer, and literary translator. Current translation projects include a collaboration with Silvia Goldman Pérez on a sequence of poems in Spanish and English, and translating two novels by the Uruguayan writer Sergio Altesor Licandro. Her poems, short stories, and translations have been widely published, and she received a 2019 Illinois Literary Award in fiction.

Saturday, July 15, 2023