Maria do Cebreiro

[If everything is a matter of arrangement]

If everything is a matter of arrangement,

now I understand the world and its creation.

I understand that it was made back to the window,

the effort divided between day and night,

how it continues to be made when someone closes her eyes

or brushes against a bramble

and looks at it and thinks of summer.

Just like the sun sees the world

on its fingertips.

The book speaks to itself,

it can be a reading and call itself “a reading”,

it unfolds in the minds of those who dream it.

This means that nothing is ever done

although everything has been done,

although everything remains to be done.

We find comfort in the book

because it speaks with ardor.

It speaks of migrants, of orphans, of the saved.

It speaks of enemies. It marks out boundaries. The first one,

the membrane that separates it from us:

an almond of light,

a sheaf of water that falls from the sky.

It does not choose lowness in order to speak of height.

It chooses smallness in order to explain grandeur.

It does not become impatient if at first we do not understand,

it scratches voices into the silence

and silence into the heart.


What I am trying to explain is that imagination

is an earthen dish kissed by fire.

Therefore it is physical,

a corporeal substance
that affects our senses and sets them alight,

that builds landscapes and casts them out,

like the sands that creep out

to devour the sea. Reason has not brought me here.

What it was: everything came together in his eyes,

a flash of water, a firepath for the boats.

Angels needed to be named,

so there were men.

Women needed to be named,

so there were stars.

In a way, we write so that the book will speak to us.

But let me tell you: try not to explain yourselves,

stop interrupting those who do not listen to you.

They will not leave, nor will you.

Whatever your situation may be,

ignoring it is just as bad as licking your wounds.

You must let the house burn

to raise its walls.

In order to say goodbye to the father, you must save him.

I am not sure what we found in that painting, its blue,

a blue so ordinary that it’s embarrassing now

(it turns out that I knew so little).

So I left and we came back.

I didn’t discover words, but rather love,

and then I understood what I hadn’t before,

what I had been passionately seeking

from my toenails to the very ends of my hair,

with the filaments of my body, tendrils in the air,

with everything that keeps growing after we’re dead.

It might sound strange to those who do not understand.

It is strange in order to oblige us to understand.

That is what we call heaven. It exists.

Think of the flower left in your hand after a dream,

of the song of a bird in Armenteira.

Within us, when the world crumbles,

just as it is crumbling now.

Though we may be ruins, and ruins of ruins.

In the epoch of the listener, we can be saved.



Translated by Neil D. Anderson

If everything is a matter of arrangement” is from Os inocentes [The Innocents] (Editorial Galaxia, 2014).


You can read and listen to the poem in the original Galician here