Painting with bird

The entire colour of the canvas is snow.

Snow covering the summits, the hills,
the low roof tiles of a solitary house.

On the twining road no one trudges, snow.

And in the bow of a river, bare of leaf a tree
can scarcely hold up its branches.

On one of its twigs a small red smudge.

Róbinson Quintero Ossa
(Original title: "Pintura con Pájaro")

Translation from the original Spanish by Charles Olsen

This poem, which I came across in a special edition of the magazine víacuarenta (números 9/10, 2010) that celebrates the poetry festival of Barranquilla, Colombia, "PoeMaRío", caught my attention as an artist. What is special for me is how the painting at once almost ceases to exist; in few words the landscape takes shape: the poet sketches in volumes, background, foreground, arching lines, emptiness and weight… until the final word that wakes us as if from a dream. A painting in words. A visual poem.

Róbinson Quintero Ossa (b. Antioquia, Colombia, 1959). Poet and essayist. His poetic works include: De viaje (1994), Hay que cantar (1998), La Poesía es un Viaje (2004), El Poeta es quien más tiene que hacer al levantarse (2008). "His poems speak of streets, jobs, travel, journeys of dreams and wakefulness that enrich the vision of an increasingly complex reality." A collection of Róbinson's poems (in Spanish) including "Pintura con Pájaro" can be read in the online magazine AuroraBoreal


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