Wings Press

THE NATIONAL ECONOMY / ECONOMICA NACIONAL by Gaudencio Rodríguez Santana, translated by Margaret Randall

, by Margaret Randall

Rodríguez Santana writes with beauty, truth, and sadness of an economic disaster that nearly destroyed his country’s revolution. His work is an elegy, and a eulogy, for Cuba’s sugar industry penned with courageous honesty by a remarkable poet. Anyone who has ever loved, and relied upon, the hope expressed by the Cuban revolution will no doubt feel hurt by these difficult words. Yet within Rodríguez Santana’s forlorn vision and testament, lives an artist who deeply admires his country and is inspired by it. Margaret Randall’s translation is faithful and revealing; it captures and illuminates a collection that feels as surprising and complex and emotional as that of any poet living today.

— John Nichols

Economía nacional

Lo que nos hace ricos también nos hace pobres.
Es de ver la nación como un viejo molino
adonde iban a parar los días de invierno
la gloria del azúcar ahora en el olvido.
Las paredes ya truncas, el hierro y el rigor
de unas cuantas personas
que dormitan al pie de los centrales
la adversidad de olores ya perdidos.

Yo miraba el humo, el silencio y el ruido
que cada madrugada abría sus dos puertas
a un bullicio de hombres que ahora
son apenas vecinos de una fábrica
en medio de la herrumbre.
Yo sentía aquellos olores palpitantes
que hoy son largos bostezos, o torres de vapor
hundidas en una niebla ajena.
Lo que me permitió el orgullo
de ser parte de un sueño ya muy viejo
se fue como las aguas de una nación pobre.

El pueblo contempla chimeneas sin humo, el extraño
recuerdo del hollín en esos lugares
marcados por un muro y una rueda dentada.

The National Economy

What makes us rich also makes us poor.
It’s about visualizing the nation as an old mill
where winter days have gone to rest,
sugar’s glory forgotten now.
Shattered walls, steel and the efforts
of a few people
who sleep at the refinery’s feet,
the affliction of long-lost scents.

I looked at the belching smoke, the silence and noise
that morning after morning opened its doors
to the bustle of men who are now
just neighbors around a factory
buried in rust.
I breathed in those penetrating odors
become long yawns today, or towers of vapor
dissolving in a foreign mist.
What made me proud
of belonging to a very old dream
disappeared like the waters of a poor nation.

The population looks out on smokeless chimneys,
strange memory of soot in those places
distinguished by a wall and cogwheel.