A Poem by Adela Busquet. Translated by Arturo Desimone
THE URGE IN ME INSISTS
The urge insists inside me.
To play the ox
for the evil wagon.
Insistent, the sovereign
Acting the ox,
neither to the wagon
nor on the road.
It insists, as if saying
To fight without opponents,
if you throw dust
A Thing that takes, or that carries
does not drag,
a fighter stays in good weight.
Insist, as in wanting.
Like having let loose.
Insist the wheel
to wheel off its spoke
and to the spindle, insist, insist.
About two days ago I saw a black man,
the negro crying, looking
at a beggar who was a Malvinas veteran.
He gave him two pesos and dried his face
with his wool cap.
In Plaza Miserere, under the subway
He carried three big valises
a Chicago Bulls backpack.
I understood he brought these suitcases from his country.
Never, until then, had I
seen a black man cry.
This is the title poem of Leli's (Adela's) book Insiste en mí la gana, published by Melón Editora books in 2014 in Argentina.
"*Translator's note: my urge to translate this poem relates to the ending--the theophany or vision of Adela when she sees a black tourist from United States wiping the face of an Argentine veteran of the Malvinas wars (the war between the Argentine regime and England over the Malvinas island colonies, in which many very young Argentine soldiers drafted by the regime were killed, wounded or otherwise traumatized.) For most Argentinians born in the 20th century, it was a rarity to ever see black people--black as in African-descended black people--until the 1990s, when Senegalese merchants began to immigrate and today sell their wares in areas of Buenos Aires. Before then, most Argentinians, unless they had travelled outside of their immense country (one-third the size of India), had seldom or never seen black people. Because I was born and raised in the Caribbean, where some my earliest memories involve black people, while my father was an Argentinian exile from the regime period, I found this naivete especially curious and hope to have communicated, across languages, the sincerity in the vision of Adela at Plaza Miserere in Buenos Aires. Adela's vision takes place in the new Argentina after the country's humiliation by the financial devastation and instability of the crisis of 2001, period after which the Argentinian cultural self-image changed considerably. I hope my attempt to give some historical -cultural context does not impede on the reading experience of Adela's poem.