The Child is Father of the Man
by David Huerta
I don't know how to seek you out inside me -
child that I was: whether I have to scrape
with gritted nails
in memory's plot
or call you forth with drastic invocations
I don't believe in.
You're lost - not lost to yourself:
only to me. But all the same I'm you,
or so they say, the ones who seem to know
more about me than I do, or than you do.
In the time that's given to a life
you had your own time,
wide and stretching out as far as
the edge, the margin of endless play.
I know you played once as I'm playing now:
but this isn't to meet you. I'm your repetition
- if only in the curtailed splendour
of the game, its guilt and innocence.
Wordsworth declares that you're my father:
himself playing a weird and wild game
with the years, succession
and genetics. For my assembled parts,
the biological thing,
I had another father
- and now he's dead. But you're alive.
No doubt about it - you're alive
like a pulsing shadow
inside me. Yet I have no knowledge of this ‘inside'.
When I examine the interior of what I am
I find a mass of inchoate forms
that even by an effort of memory
are barely distinguishable.
But you are there - untouchable, invisible.
Come closer. I sometimes think
you don't want to
for fear I'll kill you. Or that deftly
you elude me
out of an unfathomable
will to hide. Then I suspect
you have no fear of me -
as the shadow has no fear of the body
that casts it on the wall.
It could be that you're always here
and that you're the sacred form
of a cosmic ignorance
that should torment me.
Though perhaps, better still,
you've sounded the depths of visionary wisdom.
All the same, I know you hate
such big words, maybe
because you've no knowledge of them
nor they of you.
Among countless other things you may be,
I can understand that you're precisely this:
the ignorance of big words.
That for the present moment of your absence
or of your manner of hiding
this is enough for me. In the meantime, in dreams,
I croon your songs without meaning
and, awake, I try to place them
in the irregular lines of serious play,
this other edge, this margin.
The literal translation of this poem was made by Jamie McKendrick
The final translated version of the poem is by Jamie McKendrick
© Poetry Translation Centre 2004-2013