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Railroad Train, 1908
No sooner is the caboose
out of sight than they’ve
already forgotten you.
It’s like losing clout or taking
a load off their minds. That’s just
how they, who are out
to lunch or do nothing
with their lives, wash their hands
of you. Got it? Yet the trains you catch
are determined, air-conditioned, carnivorous,
in fine fettle. Thickening fogs
rise yet fail to intimidate them.
They breathe in, breathe out, iridesce, seethe.
They need a ton of room
to levitate in a hurry, heading
for the possibility of other worlds
or an extraordinary order of things.
Their windows give evidence of valleys,
Leaving on days beneath a leaden sky
is true to type, as if clouds were formed through contact
with sweat and hot breath.
you’ll be swaddled in strange lights and shadows,
gusts and twittering colours, unaccustomed racket.
Compartment C, Car 293, 1938
Face stern, hair
more or less blonde, eyes
with an inward-looking glint,
skin in the pink, wearing
a stare-till-you’re-bored attitude
in a black dress that hugged her breasts
and a pair of long legs, in good working order,
she looked real swell, sure enough,
and ‘independent’, as the saying goes.
The down time on the train was just
the ticket for stealing looks at her
as she sat across the aisle, reading –
poor kid – with such concentration
that at dusk she completely missed
the sun’s last rays burning in the west,
stuck to the limitless vault of the sky.
From Edward Hopper by Ernest Farrés, translated from the Catalan by Lawrence Venuti (Carcanet, 2010). Reproduced by permission of Carcanet Press (www.carcanet.co.uk).
Edward Hopper won the Englantina d’Or Prize. English versions of Farrés’s poems have appeared in PN Review, Words without Borders and World Literature Today.
Lawrence Venuti is a translation theorist, historian and translator from Italian, French and Catalan.
Apology: Litro’s April edition omitted full attribution of the poetry by Ernest Farrés and cover image. Both were reproduced with kind permission from the new collection of Farrés’ poetry ‘Edward Hopper’, published by Carcanet. Full publication information here