Three poems by Héctor Carreto. Translated by Kathleen Snodgrass

Odyssey II

On this trip it doesn't matter
if we discover new lands crawling with surprises,
or kiss the feet of strange women
waiting for us in every port
or even divvy up among friends
Neptune's flora and fauna.

I'll give it to you straight,
Grandpa Ulysses,
there's no time to waste
contemplating the stupid sunset.
I repeat:
the only thing that matters is to get to Colchis real soon
and make ourselves real rich--
at whose expense it doesn't matter--
get ourselves suits of gold
and leave a shine
on everything our glove touches.


At night
                      we fishes
go out to snare
a star.

With luck
by lantern's light
I catch hold,
open its petals
                            and descend
to deeper waters.
The darkness mingles us:
"we're fish with starry tips,"

In time the ocean shrinks:
my hand discovers the walls' curvature.
Nine months later, day's water breaks:
"Is it time to leave now?"


Now the lady adjusts
                                  a glove.
But no
        It's a ring,
upon kissing her a gentleman
changes into a toad
and the lady runs away.
But no:
          she leaps off
she's a frog
and the toad is now a prince
who adjusts
a glove
          that already is not.

Héctor Carreto has published six books of poems and edited several anthologies. The recipient of both national and international prizes, including Spain's Luis Cernuda Xth International Poetry Prize (1990), he directs the Editorial Program of the Technological University of Mexico. He lives in Mexico City with his wife, poet Dana Gelinas, and their two daughters.

Kathleen Snodgrass's translations of contemporary Mexican poets have recently appeared in The Northwest Review, Paintbrush, International Quarterly, The Texas Review and the Marlboro Review (#4) as well as others.

Copyright ©2000. Héctor Carreto. All rights reserved.