From Dylan and the Whales

María Baranda

Translated by Forrest Gander


Never have I touched the sea or its insubstantial skin

which embroiders the sacred.

Never have I touched the dreamy sand of the beach

where birds keep guard over their own thinness.

Not once have I listened to the stealthy

crowd of waves, 

nor to the painful wallop coming from behind the mountain.

But I’ve dreamed, ah, Dylan Thomas, I’ve dreamed

of the salt of apparitions

and time’s fruitful fall into my hands.

I’ve swallowed ocean water all alone screaming

through my eyes and my split ends and my wrinkled body

and my vanquished hair that ignites

the foam in my throat. 

Because I’ve been the antihero

who travels through silence kept by that sea, the word.

The one specifying the scent of algae

on the table of sacrifices.

Here too we nourish the idiom of the clown and the afflicted.

Here the picklock for the skin of Virgilians,

the nettle’s piercing silence.

Here the wind’s detritus and the countenance of some tracks

circling back into a fable. 

Here wild green is the color of prophets

who devise frayed Aeneids

charged with the rage of those who adored travelers.

Here is everything in its distinctness… 

We’ve lost so many phoenixes that the eagle’s cry

becomes a daily prayer and the blackbird

with its cackling dark voice

kneels in the night 

on the blanket of the damned. 

You’ve come this far, Dylan Thomas, just to see the dream

that dreams you howling into tomorrow:

it’s a dream of a tiger in the summer of your blood. 

A tiger with candle eyes and a water face.

A rain-in-your-throat tiger that loathes the valleys

of the imagination, the agonizing badlands

of burning memory. 

A tiger of lime and obsidian, its stripes in the shadow

of a tomb. The tomb that awaits you, 

the hard white tomb with its white certainty and its worms

in the briefness of that vertigo now gnawing at your fables.

Your horror fables so like the tears of archangels

that irrigate rivers and forests, their borders invaded

by red puddles of hollow words.

Words that sting men, that singe loneliness

in the saltpeter, that spike the insubstantial saliva

of those who don’t even know

the language of the rose and the orchid.

Stainless steel words

in which the peasant’s thirst flickers out

and the children’s hunger goes mute beneath their tears.

Lia Cook, Binary Traces Young Girl


Many talented individuals are featured in the West Marin Review. Please click below for this volume’s contributors.

    • Lia Cook   Binary Traces Young Girl
    • Carol Whitman   High Tide at White House Pool
    • Muriel Murch   Farming the Flats
    • James Misner   Three Short Stories
    • Rick Lyttle   Harry Truman and Me
    • L. L. Babb   Chuck Lange Kicks Ass
    • Linda Gebroe   A Play in Four Pitches
    • Barbara Heenan   Grabbed by the Pussy
    • Lina Jane Prairie   Kelp Work
    • Morgan McDonald   Mobile
    • Elizabeth Wing   The Plankton Expedition
    • G. David Miller   Mad Dogs and Americans
    • Reeva Harrison   In Pursuit of Thingness
    • J. C. Stock   Mountain Bliss
    • Nancy Cavers Dougherty   Inversion
    • Amy Elizabeth Robinson   Reading Michael Meade’s Why the World Doesn’t End…
    • Jorge Bravo   The Universe
    • María Baranda   From Dylan and the Whales Translated by Forrest Gander
    • Mary Winegarden   Long Marriage
    • Derveaux Baker   Second Chances
    • Jon Langdon   When It Counts
    • Regina O’Melveny   The Bird
    • Claire Millikin   Christian Girl
    • Rebecca Foust   all this beauty
    • Jim Nawrocki   On Reading The Encyclopedia of Creation Myths
    • Wayne Hill   The book about walking
    • Luis Lenz-Fontan   Life
    • Barbara Swift Brauer   Fog / Trees Returning
    • Sarah Anna Paden   Hoshigaki
    • Stephen Ajay   Windless and By Our Own Hands
    • Kathleen Evans   Crossing the Line
    • Brian C. Felder   Cold Calculus
    • David Swain   Border Crossing
    • Elizabeth Wing   Pierce Point
    • Lia Cook   Binary Traces Young Girl
    • Emely Garcia-DeLeon   Point Reyes Seashore
    • Wendy Goldberg   Inside Out and Early Spring Clearing
    • Charles Robinson   Granddaughter Isabel Robinson
    • Thomas Wood   Tomales Bay at Chicken Ranch Beach
    • Torrey Baron   Shadows
    • Julia Lucey   The Bear and the Bees
    • Jennifer Thompson   Can’t Face It
    • Abbey Wenk   My Happy Place
    • Pam Fabry   Blue
    • Patricia Thomas   Negative Dark Matter
    • Bear Lombard   Our School Fox
    • Stella Bailey   White Horse
    • Dana Hooper   Jigsaw
    • Anne Hudes   Dolphin Light
    • Mimi Robinson   Kyrgyzstan Yurts
    • Barbara Lawrence   Point Reyes Lunch
    • Danae Mattes   Horizon and Harbor
    • Betsy Kellas   Invocation and Barriers and Boundaries 3
    • Vi Strain   Moments of Natural Beauty
    • Amanda J. Sanow   Red Hill
    • Jo Margolis   Grid with Calligraphic Frame
    • Kate Kozubik   Red Tree with Bird
    • Glenn Carter   Knot
    • Marianne Reger   Bouquet
    • Marsha Balian   A Day at the Races
    • Gene Crowe   Purse, SF MOMA
    • Jane Zich   Running Deer
    • Alex Farnum   Kelp Work
    • Anne Faught   Pages from a Life
    • Jon Ching   Indestructible
    • Eleykaa Tully   Hope
    • Laurence Brauer   Fog, Trees, Mt. Wittenberg Trail
    • Jean Warren   Coming Together
    • Caitlin McCaffrey   The Claw Family
    • Amanda Tomlin   Bees
    • Harriet Kossman   Mabel, Cleo, and Peter: Morning Meeting on Pamela’s Deck
    • Sherrie Lovler   Inspiration
    • Barbara Treichler Gregor   California Pipevine Swallowtail
    • Mark Ropers   A New Day
    • Carol Whitman   High Tide at White House Pool