Issue > Poetry
Keith Ekiss

Keith Ekiss

Eunice Odio (1919-1974) was a Costa Rican poet and essayist. Her principal works include Los elementos terrestres (Earthly Elements, 1948), Zona en territorio del alba (Zone in the Territory of Dawn, 1953), El tránsito de fuego (The Fire’s Journey, 1957), and Territorio del alba y otros poemas (Territory of Dawn and Other Poems, 1974).



Keith Ekiss is a Jones Lecturer in Creative Writing at Stanford University and a former Wallace Stegner Fellow. He is the author of Pima Road Notebook (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2010) and translator of The Fire's Journey by the Costa Rican poet Eunice Odio (Tavern Books, 2013).

 

A brief introduction to "The Fire's Journey"

"The Fire's Journey" is a book-length poem in four volumes that follows the trials of Ion, the poet-hero who enters the world when it is formless and void and gives shape to all things (horses and birds, for example) through language. In Volume III of "The Fire's Journey," Ion oversees the construction of a cathedral designed to keep out the forces of darkness and chaos.

 

The Cathedral's Work

(Translated from the Spanish)


I.

ION

Come apart, line of stone, far from what rests,
be a shifting dwelling, the joy of organic form.

Approaching days will arrive, nearby dimensions
where all things become incarnate and surrender to spatial life.

The curve will pass through sound's highest notes,
the straight line will sever all contact with the earth.

Come unbound and return to yourself congregated,
return to yourself multiplied within.

Decree your climate as you traverse the air.

Ascend to your spatial act–

leap!

DEDALUS

Your task is to fall joyfully
and to decipher joy while falling

ION

To lift matter and carry it
without stumbling to its celestial origin

DEDALUS

What about tomorrow?

ION

All is ready

LOGOS

Tomorrow we shall see force configured.
We shall know where it leads its faint tensions

toward which temper it advances through numerical stations

ION

Tomorrow its transparency will be harmonized;
tomorrow its secret numbers will be in order

LOGOS

It will unleash its multiples leaving us

leaning over

the void

to see them

ION

Tomorrow the fleshless stone
free of its weight

will give birth

without sin

to a breath

II.

ION

The cathedral's column is changing.
Never again shall it be that quiet roundness
buried in darkness

LOGOS

We shall make a new column

ION

A multiplied column,
a façade of breathing flint

LOGOS

Each multiple will lead the stone
toward other states of itself

ION

The stone will not stop.
It will not support itself.

An ecstatic leap will lift its weight granting it to space.

Thereafter

temporary angels orbiting in granite swirls
will add up the unleashed, possessed matter
in linear silences

ARKHOS

Let it be so

ION

And tomorrow paradise in a word

DEDALUS

Tomorrow

 

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