Primavera en Jevani / Roque Dalton

Spring in Jevani

Androgynous colors, a true Patagonia of colors, threatening, hosts of doubt, impermeable to the greatest voracity, well-organized savages, edible like a Japanese neo-symphony heard next to the sun that's woken you from the longest night of love.

The little birds aren't afraid of Oswaldo Barreto or of me, they possibly confuse us with two workers from the Prague sausage factory. On the contrary, they whistle waltzes for the municipal band above our heads and they make us feel embarrassed (embarrassing embarrassment) about our Urraca and our Querque birds, of the squawking of the bands of parrots, of the aural punch of the Azacuán wounded in times of cold.

"Beer doesn't go well at six in the morning"—Ingra says to us as she brings the steaming mugs. This is, then, a dangerous place. Enough to say, at the dusk hour (though it's too early to think of it, even while weighing all the cautions) : "Life, overall, has been beautiful." Yesterday precisely, after debating about the excessive sexual charge of modern literature, we visited a pig farm. Veterinarians with white smocks examined the gigantic pink animals with respectable and at the same time moving stethoscopes, while they demanded of us that we stop speaking so loudly. Before entering they had covered our faces with gauze muzzles to stop our personal microbes from being left in the tidy shack. We were informed the place was even removed from the roads and railroad tracks, since any strange noise could infinitely frighten the pigs, making them lose weight and possibly give them a heart attack. I never saw pigs with a more son-of-a-bitch profile than these. They're living hams, with horrible little blue veins all over, insolent, identical to Monseñor Francisco Castro Ramírez, an exaggeratedly arrogant bishop from my country's Western region. Oswaldo Barreto, suddenly and without warning me, emitted the sharpest howl I remember having heard in the last five years. Panic ensued—as a Honduran novelist might say—, especially since the pigs began to display signs of anguish which soon became a type of collective asthma attack. The veterinarians ran frightened here and there and our guide, absolutely furious and trembling, said to Oswaldo: "The rule here is silence." "I tend to scream"—this one answered—, "I'm Venezuelan." "When in Rome do as the Romans"—cited the guide, popular but no less tense. "When any of you visit Venezuela we don't force you to scream"—sentenced Barreto impertubably, before I dragged him out, almost shoving him, from the place. I almost threw up from laughing so hard. Like when I saw that sign on the street in Santiago de Chile: "Zorobabel, Galeno, Sastre." Even though I don't remember any more, I don't understand, what was funny about the sign. Oswaldo ended up paying for his crime: last night he dreamed they'd turned him back in his studies and he found himself in his fourth year of secondary school, starting a Trigonometry final exam, without even being able to pronounce the word cathetus. He awoke sweating at dawn and has now woken me to walk around a bit and look for beer.

It was then I decided to talk about the spring.

Time of year when even soccer players flourish, as the whole world knows.

And which in Czechoslovakia becomes an order from the town council to swim with the trout or search for mushrooms and naked girls under the sun the forest pines allow to shine through to the ground.

Tomorrow we'll return to Prague with faces burned by that sun.

Oswaldo Barreto and I should leave these places as soon as possible, lest we end up having kids with Zdenas and Janas, getting fat from large steaks and cottony melons and strawberries with cream, until forgetting someone is dying badly in our old house and has asked for us urgently.

Anyways, viva this spring!

tr. Guillermo Juan Parra

{ Roque Dalton, Taberna y otros lugares, San Salvador: UCA Editores, 1989 [1969] }

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