Luis Alberto Ambroggio

Yvette Neisser

US Landscapes

Floricanto Issue
Volume 13:1, Winter 2012

US Landscapes

If each brick could speak;
if each bridge could speak;
if the parks, plants, flowers could speak;
if each piece of pavement could speak,
they would speak Spanish.

If the towers, roofs,
air conditioners could speak;
if the churches, airports, factories could speak,
they would speak Spanish.

If the toils could bloom with a name,
they would not be called stones but Sánchez,
González, García, Rodriguez, José or Peña.

But they cannot speak.
They are hands, works, scars,
that for now keep silent.
Or perhaps not anymore.


Paisajes de los Estados Unidos

Si cada ladrillo hablara;
Si cada puente hablara;
Si hablaran los parques, las plantas, las flores;
Si cada trozo de pavimento hablara,
Hablarían en español.

Si las torres, los techos,
Los aires acondicionados hablaran;
Si hablaran las iglesias, los aeropuertos, las fábricas,
Hablarían en español.

Si los sudores florecieran con un nombre,
No se llamarían piedras, sino Sánchez,
González, García, Rodríguez, José o Peña.

Pero no pueden hablar.
Son manos, obras, cicatrices,
que por ahora callan.
O quizás ya no.


[English translation by Yvette Neisser Moreno.]


Luis Alberto Ambroggio is an internationally known Hispanic-American poet born in Argentina, and a member of the North American and the Spanish Academies of the Language. He is the author of twenty collections of poetry published in Argentina, Costa Rica, Spain, and the United States, including Difficult Beauty: Selected Poems 1987-2006 (2009), with an introduction by Pulitzer Prize winner Oscar Hijuelos, and The Wind's Archeology (2011). Ambroggio has also published two books of essays and a collection of short fiction, and co-edited the anthology Al pie de la Casa Blanca: Poetas hispanos de Washington, DC (At The Foot of the White House: Hispanic Poets in Washington, DC; 2010) and edited De Azul a Rojo: Voces de poetas nicaragüenses del siglo xxi (From Blue to Red: Voices of Nicaraguan Poets from the 21st Century; 2011). His poetry is translated into several languages, and is included in the Archives of Hispanic Literature of the Library of Congress. To read more by this author: Three poems, Vol. 6:2, Spring 2005 Wartime Issue, Vol. 7:2, Spring 2006 Langston Hughes Tribute Issue, Vol. 12:1, Winter 2011

Yvette Neisser is the author of Grip, winner of the 2011 Gival Press Poetry Award. Her translations from Spanish include South Pole/Polo Sur by María Teresa Ogliastri (Settlement House, 2011) and Difficult Beauty: Selected Poems by Luis Alberto Ambroggio (Cross-Cultural Communications, 2009). Her poems, translations, essays, and reviews have appeared in Foreign Policy in Focus, Virginia Quarterly Review, the Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry, and Split This Rock's The Quarry. She is a founding Board Member of the DC-Area Literary Translators Network (DC-ALT) and has taught writing at George Washington University and The Writer's Center. By day, she is a writer for international development programs. To read more by this author: Four poems, Vol. 12:2, Spring 2011 Langston Hughes Tribute Issue, Vol. 12:1, Winter 2011 Audio Issue, Vol. 9:4, Fall 2008 DC Places Issue, Vol. 7:3, Summer 2006