Love Poems: Poetry by Jaime Sabines

Translated by Colin Carberry


MY HEART EMBARKS from my body to your body
on its last voyage.
Offspring of light,
ageless waters that in you, woman astray, are born.
Come to my thirst. Now.
After everything. Before.
Come to my thirst long savoured
in mouths, scarce well-springs.
I love that rapt harp that lulls wild children
in your womb.
I love that taut moisture that arouses you,
that watery moisture that burns you.
Woman, gentle muscle.
The skin of a kiss between your breasts’
darkened surf
roams in my mouth
and measures blood.
You, too. And it isn’t too late.
We can still die in each other’s arms:
this no-man’s land is yours and mine.
Woman, hatred’s tenderness, ancient mother,
poison, flame, absence, bitter,
bitter sea, I want to enter,
penetrate, cross you.
Each cell is female, open country,
parted waters—a thing that opens.
I was born to enter you.
I’m the arrow lodged in the loin of a dying gazelle.
I’m poised to know you,
grain of anguish in a bird’s heart.
I’ll be upon you, and every woman
everywhere will have a man on top of her.


THE LOVERS

The lovers fall silent.
Love is the finest, the most shuddering,
the most unendurable, silence.
The lovers seek,
they are the ones who relinquish,
those who change, who forget.
Their hearts tell them that what they look for,
what they seek, they will not find.

The lovers go around like lunatics
because they are alone, alone, alone;
yielding, giving themselves up at every turn,
crying because they can’t hold on to their love.
Love obsesses them. The lovers live
for today; knowing little else, it’s all they can do.
They are always going,
forever heading elsewhere.
They wait—
for nothing, but they wait.
For what they know they’ll never find.
Love is a perpetual prolongation,
always the next, no, the following, step.
The lovers are incorrigible,
those who always—good for them!—have to be alone.

With serpents for arms, the lovers
are the hydra of the tale;
their neck-veins, too, swell up, serpent-
like, in order to throttle them.
The lovers cannot sleep,
for if they did the worms would devour them.

They open their eyes in the darkness
and terror seizes them.

They see scorpions beneath the sheets
and their bed floats as though on a lake.

The lovers are mad, stone mad,
forsaken of God and Satan.

Trembling and famished,
the lovers come out of their caves
to hunt ghosts.
They laugh at those who know everything,
at those who love forever, heart and soul,
those who believe in love as in an lamp filled with inexhaustible oil.

The lovers play at gathering water,
at tattooing smoke, at going nowhere;
they play the long, sorrowful game of love.
You don’t have to give in;
no one has to give in, they say.
The thought of conforming with anything mortifies them.

Hollowed out (picked clean from one rib to the next),
Death gradually distills behind their eyes,
and they cry and wander, adrift, until daybreak,
when trains and roosters bid their painful farewell.

Sometimes, the smells of damp earth, of women
who sleep, soothed, a hand between their thighs,
of trickling water, and of kitchens, reaches them,
and the lovers begin to sing between pursed lips
a song never learned.
And they go on crying, crying for
this beautiful life.


I’M NOT DYING OF LOVE: I’m dying of you,
my love—dying of the love of you,
of my dire need for my skin of you,
of my soul and my mouth of you,
of the miserable wretch I am without you.

I’m dying of you and me, of both
of us, of this–
ripped to shreds, torn apart,
the two of us are dying, dying of it.

We’re dying in my room where I’m alone,
on my bed where you’re missing,
in the streets where my arm goes unaccompanied,
at the movies and in parks, on trams,
in places where your head rested on my shoulder,
and my hand held yours,
and all of you I know like myself.

We die in places lent to air
so that you can be away from me,
and go to airless enclaves where
I cover you with my skin
and we come to know each other in ourselves,
unworlded, joy-saturated, without end.

We’re dying, this we know, ignore, we are dying
together, now, sundered
each from the other, daily,
moulded into multiple statues,
in gestures we don’t see,
in our hands that need us.
We’re dying, love, I’m dying in your womb
that I neither nibble nor kiss,
in your sweet and living thighs,
and in your unending flesh, I’m dying of masks,
and of dark and incessant triangles.
I’m dying of your body and of mine,
of our death, love, I, we, are dying.
In love’s pit at all hours,
inconsolable, in sobs and screams
inside me, I mean to say, I call you,
those who are being born, who are coming from
behind, from you, those who reach you, are calling you.
We are dying, love, and, hour by hour,
we do nothing but die a little more,
and write and talk to each and die together.


IN THE MOUTH OF THE BONFIRE burn my days,
the dead leaves and dry grass that I am.
My soul feels like scorched earth.
Eyes: see nothing but the everyday ghosts.
Mouth: say nothing but the greeting, “Good evening,”
and, for weather: “A fine evening,” or “It’s pouring rain.”
Hands and fingers: go on gripping the desk,
the wine-glass, banknotes, and thighs.
Sole of my foot: you must walk the beaten path,
alongside the same cars, over the same ants.
Heart: devote yourself to your blood, and my lungs.
And you, dear stomach: digest whatever I fill you with.
Millwheel: we’re no strangers.
For you, my most beloved, most hated, I’ll be seeking out
the sweetest names
and secreting them in your ear with my tongue.
I want to fill your head with that foam of the sea.
I’m no good for anything but the birds.
God, my tree: let me fall from you like your shadow.


MY LOVE, MY DEAR, love suddenly
found in the oyster of death,
I want to eat with, be, love with you,
touch and watch you.

I tell myself, the blood pulsing
through my veins tells me,
and this pain and my shoes,
mouth and pillow, tell me so.

I love you, my dear love, absurdly,
foolishly, all lit up, head over heels,
rose-dreaming, conjuring stars; saying
goodbye to you walking beside you.

I love you from the pole on the corner,
from the carpet of that empty room,
on the warm sheets of your body
where a vase of poppies sleeps.

Long hair of the restless air,
river of night, dark banana grove,
blind beehive, unearthed love,

I’ll follow your footsteps upwards,
from your feet to your thigh to your rib.

9 comments

He stealing my thoughts about you, the shine in your eyes, your golden skin like mother Eve and the touch of your hands in my skin. ..

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Excellent love poems.
While reading them, I found out they're equivocally genuine and deeply composed.
For example,
"With serpents for arms, the lovers
are the hydra of the tale;
their neck-veins, too, swell up, serpent-
like, in order to throttle them.
The lovers cannot sleep,
for if they did the worms would devour them."
I love the way you describe; it is indeed perfect in its own way.
I look forward to reading more of these Love Poems when you translate them in such a beautiful way.

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Ive probably read your translations a dozen times over the past year, and will probably read them a hundred more times. Thank you for sharing them with the world.

Reply

Ive probably read your translations a dozen times over the past year, and will probably read them a hundred more times. Thank you for sharing them with the world.

Reply

Ive probably read your translations a dozen times over the past year, and will probably read them a hundred more times. Thank you for sharing them with the world.

Reply

Thank you very much, Prathamesh

Reply

Thank you, Tanjara, for your kind comments.

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My favorite writer... Thank you! I love him
I'm living in your country (BC) greetings...

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