Clayton Eshleman: A Transmigralation (2009)

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 7:22 AM
I have César Vallejo positioned in my being.
I have turned him into my Spectre.
He now labors at my forge.
He flows through each containing wall, a bifurcating
maze, filthy with unwashed adhesiveness.

What call this transmigration from a text
via translation into another,
the translator? Is not the site of transfer a kind of purgatorium,
a place of cleansing?

On girders of black lightning black maggots are frying.

Psyche rises from the void. An elk is my Cro-Magnon mother.

The blow of creation at Chauvet: a 30,000 year old “minotaur”
hovering on a fang-like rock overhang above
a fierce black vulva dabbed there like a feedbag.
If they knew to hover this metempsychotic hybrid over a vulva
they probably had extraordinary semen fantasies,
possibly would have connected testes
via spinal marrow to the termite queen of the brain.

There’s a pouch of menstrual blood & semen
attached to the back wall of imagination.
In it a dye called redemption, trying to reach rose,
keeps going sukra ratka sukra ratka sukra ratka.

March to this thunderstroke beat: God can only be tasted by angels.

Thus is there a sarcophagal taint in every hierarch.

The rootstalk of paradise is to be found in one’s trouser-like tongue.

I am entombed in womb-like fortitude, expanded to curtailment.

[I began this transmigralation after having spent three days in the British Museum, April, 2007, having flown to London for the English “launch” of The Complete Poetry of César Vallejo. I had been reading & admiring Kristin Prevallet’s I, Afterlife. Saturated with museum “afterlife,” I realized that in the spirit that Blake’s Los compelled his Spectre to work with him at the forge, with my 48 year translation saga completed, Vallejo’s “afterlife” was (as far as I was concerned) to labor in my being. He was now part of my own intuitive machinery. Rather than cast him in
the lake (as Blake elsewhere advises), I determined to include his cravings and revelations as implementations for my own “grindstone of rapport.”]

Will man ever fall out of himself,
slip his mummy,
split his background,
discard his salvation cartoon?

Never is oneself.
An astronomical amount of absence is loaded into every conscious being.

Do all questions concerning the continuing existence of the soul
make up a constellation called “the afterlife?”

In the poem “He who will come has just passed,” Vallejo implies that the resurrectional spirit of Christ, now neither of the past nor of the future but part of the air we breathe, is displayed in humankind’s ontological contradictions.

6 AM. Caressing Caryl’s cramped hand,
I see the two of us seated
facing outward like Egyptian King and Queen,
Caryl holding my head in her lap,
me holding Caryl’s head in my lap.
Our faces calm, archaically smiling.

Behind this scene: Golgatha at full tilt.
Three loaded swaying crosses
surrounded by thousands, as at a 1905 Alabama lynch picnic.
I lock onto the eyes of one man in the crowd
staring voluptuously at the middle nailed man
—to realize that He is Christ!

Then who is that up on the cross?

“I am."

[For a discussion of Clayton Eshleman as translator & with a particular emphasis on his translations of César Vallejo, see the preceding entry on this blog.]

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