A Translation

If I Should Come Upon Your House Lonely in the West Texas Desert
By Natalie Diaz. Selected by Reginald Dwayne Betts, NYTimes, 4-1-21.

[Translator’s note: The title’s ‘West Texas Desert’ is resonant and necessary. For my Spanish interpretation, however, the fact of the state’s desert lying solely west gives me pretext to skirt (nervously) the preposition wreck “el desierto del oeste de Tejas” with “el desierto de Tejas.” The alternative “el desierto de Tejas occidental” is comparably abject on top of risible. JMN]

Si anhelante me topo con tu casa en el desierto de Tejas

I will swing my lasso of headlights
across your front porch,
Echaré el lazo de mis faros
a lo ancho de tu porche delantero,

let it drop like a rope of knotted light
at your feet.
dejándolo caer como reata de luz anudada
a tus pies.

While I put the car in park,
you will tie and tighten the loop
Mientras pongo el coche en pare,
vas a atar la lazada de luz

of light around your waist —
and I will be there with the other end
apretándola por tu cintura —
y allí estaré yo con la otra punta

wrapped three times
around my hips horned with loneliness.
envolviéndome tres veces
las caderas cornudas de anhelo.

Reel me in across the glow-throbbing sea
of greenthread, bluestem prickly poppy,
Sácame como pez enrollado del mar pálpito-luciente
del té silvestre, el chicalote,

the white inflorescence of yucca bells,
up the dust-lit stairs into your arms.
la blanca inflorescencia de corolas de yuca,
subida la escalera iluminada de polvo hasta tus brazos.

If you say to me, This is not your new house
but I am your new home,
Si tú me dices, Ésta no es tu nueva casa
pero soy yo tu nuevo hogar,

I will enter the door of your throat,
hang my last lariat in the hallway,
entraré por la puerta de tu garganta,
colgaré mi lazo último en el pasillo,

build my altar of best books on your bedside table,
turn the lamp on and off, on and off, on and off.
montaré mi altar de libros favoritos sobre tu mesita de noche,
pondré la lámpara encendida y apagada, encendida y apagada, encendida y apagada.

I will lie down in you.
Eat my meals at the red table of your heart.
Me acostaré en ti.
Me alimentaré en la mesa roja de tu corazón.

Each steaming bowl will be, Just right.
I will eat it all up,
Cada tazón humeante estará, En su punto.
Me lo comeré todo,

break all your chairs to pieces.
If I try running off into the deep-purpling scrub brush,
haré pedazos de todas tus sillas.
Si intento escabullirme al profundo matorral purpurante,

you will remind me,
There is nowhere to go if you are already here,
tú me recordarás,
No hay donde irte si estás ya aquí,

and pat your hand on your lap lighted
by the topazion lux of the moon through the window,
y palmearás tu regazo iluminado
por el lux lunar topacio que arroja la ventana,

say, Here, Love, sit here — when I do,
I will say, And here I still am.
diciendo, Aquí, Amor, siéntate aquí — cuando lo hago,
yo diré, Y estoy aquí todavía yo.

Until then, Where are you? What is your address?
I am hurting. I am riding the night
Hasta entonces, ¿Dónde estás tú? ¿Cuál es tu dirección?
Estoy sufriendo. Estoy montando la noche

on a full tank of gas and my headlights
are reaching out for something.
con un depósito lleno y mis faros
se alargan en busca de algo.

(c) 2021 JMN. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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