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At the Base of the Hand (translation by Jonathan Simkins)

At the base of the Hand was the foot.

               Each of us

marched through a loan from the Wheel to the Branch.

At the base of the Wheel was the eye

of the kindling stone.

The star can plunge from eyelashes 

               and blink out in the mud.

The Moon’s flame burns doubly white

when water starts to perish for the eyebrows.

At the base of the Hand was the stinging

silt of the nails.

Only eagles have free rein

to scratch the neck of the Sun

when they haul bundles of weapons

across the sea, as ponderous as Fire.

The haystack’s still not studded

with those cricket feet

where Schubert’s little snuffbox sang.

At the base of the Hand was the key

of the Bandaged Head,

in remembrance of the egg of immured magnolia.

There was the feathery, refulgent axis of alcohol,

its stallion drowsing with its arms crossed

across the glass.

At the base of the Hand was the vein of the statue

and the clamor of the hammer

leaping to the apex

severed into ten nails.

The pencil was reflected in the contour of the wheat

when the focus of the mane ran bluer.

At the base of my Hand will always be

the electrifying string of the kite,

               the only means I have

to write Poetry and fly

without escaping the horrific Lake of the Lions.

En el fondo de la mano by César Dávila Andrade

En el fondo de la Mano estuvo el pie.

              Todos

caminamos por un préstamo de la Rueda a la Rama.

En el fondo de la Rueda estuvo el ojo

de la piedra de encender.

La estrella puede caer de pestañas en el barro

              y apagarse.

Es doblemente blanca la llama de la Luna

cuando el agua comienza a morir por las cejas.

En el fondo de la Mano estuvo el limo

punzante de las uñas.

Arañar el cuello del Sol, sólo a las águilas

les es permitido

cuando trasladan por encima del mar

los haces de armas, pesados como el Fuego.

Aún no ha sido claveteado el pajar

con aquellos pies de grillo

en donde cantaba la pequeña tabaquera de Schubert.

En el fondo de la Mano estuvo la llave

de la Cabeza Vendada,

en recuerdo del huevo de magnolia emparedada.

Estuvo el eje emplumado radiante del alcohol,

su caballo que duerme con los brazos cruzados

sobre el vidrio.

En el fondo de la Mano estuvo la veta de la estatua

y el martillo

que puede ser oído saltando con la cresta

dividida en diez clavos.

Estuvo el lápiz reflejado en el perfil del trigo

cuando es más azul el foco de las crines.

En el fondo de mi Mano estará siempre

el hilo aturdidor de la cometa.

              Sólo con él me es posible

escribir Poesía y volar

sin salir del terrible Lago de los Leones.


César Dávila Andrade, a clean-shaven man with black hair combed back, wearing black rimmed glasses, a suit coat, shirt and tie, stares directly at the camera.

César Dávila Andrade (Cuenca, 1918—Caracas, 1967) was an Ecuadorian poet, short fiction writer, and essayist. He was known as El Fakir for both his physical appearance and the mystical and esoteric concerns of his work. His chronicle of atrocities and forced labor under Spanish rule, “Bulletin and Elegy of the Mitas,” is widely acclaimed, both critically and popularly, as a key text of 20th century Ecuadorian poetry.

Jonathan Simkins, a bald, bearded man, wearing a long sleeve zip up shirt and standing in front of a bookshelf, reads the book in his hands, Poesía, Narrativa, Ensayo by César Dávila Andrade

Jonathan Simkins is the translator of El Creacionismo by Vicente Huidobro (The Lune), and The Treasure of the Llanganates by Paúl Puma (Pumaeditores). His translations of César Dávila Andrade have appeared in Modern Poetry in Translation, Tampa Review, and The Journal.