Little Stones at My Window

Windows on Istanbul
Originally uploaded by robokow

Confession: I have an intense dislike for window poems. Most of the ones I’ve come across use the window as a lens to the view the rest of the world, a world the writer strives to make as alien as possible from his place of writing. The ones I really hate use the window to separate the writer from the outside world and limit the possibility of the writers’ work to only the things seen from the window. Any possibility that poetry can exist past the window ceases to exist as the poet shrinks away from engaging with a world that he can’t control.

This poem by the recently departed Mario Bendetti goes with a far better approach to writing from the window. Bendetti’s speaker realizes that his world is limited and the outside world is full of so much possibility and joy that to stay locked up would limit his own growth and possibility. I like this window poem, one where the writer can leave the tragic behind and go outside of his secure writing space and take a chance in the unknown.

Little Stones at My Window
by Mario Benedetti
Translated by Charles Hatfield

for roberto and adelaida

Once in a while
joy throws little stones at my window
it wants to let me know that it’s waiting for me
but today I’m calm
I’d almost say even-tempered
I’m going to keep anxiety locked up
and then lie flat on my back
which is an elegant and comfortable position
for receiving and believing news

who knows where I’ll be next
or when my story will be taken into account
who knows what advice I still might come up with
and what easy way out I’ll take not to follow it

don’t worry, I won’t gamble with an eviction
I won’t tattoo remembering with forgetting
there are many things left to say and suppress
and many grapes left to fill our mouths

don’t worry, I’m convinced
joy doesn’t need to throw any more little stones
I’m coming
I’m coming.

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