David’s Orchard

I would have liked to say the anthology or the florilegium of David Huerta; however, the multifaceted nature of El desprendimiento prevents us from capturing it in a spruced-up and monotonous bouquet of roses, without thorns or imperfect petals. On the contrary, the abundance of styles, themes, tones, emotions and experiences that swarm through the collection recently published by Galaxia Gutenberg forces us to approach David’s abundant poetry as a generous orchard of smells and stenches, pains and sweats, flavors and heartaches. And this other, also valid: of ailments, shortages, experiences and stridencies. Here, in El desprendimiento, as Whitman would say or should have said, dwells a man, or as Borges did say that the author of Hamlet said: he offers “to the world (I am saying it with Shakespeare’s words) the certainty of a man.” Even more: there is a man in illo tempore, with the fateful days and the glowing afternoons and the unforgettable nights and the dull Sunday mornings: “Everything is dirty, / cloaked, / in the sadness / of Sunday. And it grows worse.”

This hodgepodge of various lessons, like Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, contains an encyclopedia, and a variety of textures and shudders and intermedial discourses. In this sense, the collaborations with Miguel Castro Leñero, Gunther Gerzso and Francisco Toledo stand out. Naming and drawing: Cratylus and Apelles (re)create the world while the world (re)creates them, like the uroboros that fascinates David so much. More than tautologies or imitations (in the Platonic sense), the poems restore the lost emotion (snatched, hidden, suspended?) between the canvas and the brush: in addition to the eyes, skin and nose, memory and heart, fantasy and dream get going, in short, the nightmare of being alive to name nightmares and everyday pleasures. Without the illustration, bare of the image that acted as a detonator, the poem operates in favor of the reading imagination, with the autonomy of Genghis Khan or the First Dream, born on the pillow of rest, or the Commedia, incubated in the morning dreams of a man that resented the world. As a sample of this (re)creative gift, just look at the final stanza of “La noche del cuerpo,” whose fine scatology borders on the aura of Vallejo or Góngora, and not the straight description of Revueltas or Quevedo:

In the night of the body
they prepare themselves again
for its diurnal explosions,
for the moment
when they will have to come out
through the fierce smoke of their outburst.

El desprendimiento, if taken in a broad sense, becomes a tribute, a giving oneself to others: to those who nourished his love life and his disaffections; to the child and the adolescent, to the man and the men who, from the deep lake of quicksilver, with all their ghosts and demons, have watched him come and go in the turmoil of the world; to the poets who sowed the semen of poetry in the timeless age of childhood, as the poet explains:

I read a lot of poetry in my childhood and adolescence. Around the age of twelve or thirteen, García Lorca’s “Canción del jinete” was what produced the frisson that triggered a vocation for writing, which until then had been a vocation of avid, disorderly, curious reader. I have continued to read everything, even any old piece of paper in the streets, following Cervantes’ precepts.

The poet’s honors are diversified in time and space. “Música de las cosas que pasan” constitutes the lyrical funeral oration in which David chooses his precursors: Heaney, Gorostiza, Char, Vallejo, Neruda, Walcott. Half a dozen sunflowers that attract the sun to his orbit. Others appear disguised as intertexts and paraphrases. See, for example, the indispensable presence of Borges. In “Prosa de la montaña 2,” David Huerta, more than in prose, writes in solemn verses: “I open my hands. I moan, I sob, I dance. All is one and is all for all.” One might think that in the background there is, and perhaps that is the case, a trace of theosophy in that one is all; for me, it is a double allusion to the Borges who, in the preface to Fervor de Buenos Aires, states “We are all one,” gleaned from Torres Villarroel’s Life, as well as “is all for all,” from 1 Corinthians 9:22, and which is reproduced in “Early Wells,” “The Cult of the Phoenix” and other Borgesian passages. The Davidian aspiration to write a work that is all things to all people is expressed here. Thus Borges with Shakespeare: “Shakespeare’s good verses are manifestly Shakespeare’s, but the best, the eternal ones, are no longer his. They have the virtue of seeming to belong to any man, to any country.” Then, in “Barro,” the character of Meynrik, who so attracted Borges, the homunculus of the hermetic tradition, surfaces “Just like the first mud / like the clay of the golem.” And what about the allusion to Chuang Tzu in “Hundimiento”? Like Borges in “The South” or Cortázar in “The Night Face Up,” David impart a twist to the fascinating oriental fable with a girl as the protagonist: “Like Chuang Tzu, she did not know if she was dreaming / that she was awake in this world / or if she was awake and dreaming and believed she was dreaming in another world.” I will say no more about the heterogeneous series of “El otro ejército”, which recalls the populous visual avalanche of “The Aleph.”

Neruda, for his part, receives David’s homage in the incipit of “Walking Around,” with the usual quotation marks (“It so happens I am sick of being a man”), in the first of the “Trece intenciones contra el amor trivial.” Then, in “Cansados,” a paraphrase and its source accentuate what could well be considered a leitmotif in the poetry of David: “Of existing weary / Or like in the poem by Neruda / Sick of being men.” The daily fatigue explodes here and there, in the young and in the adult, in the vigil and in the nightmare: apocalyptic vision of the personal universe, not pessimistic, because he glimpses its end not as a condemnation, but as an object being that erodes to the point of collapse. As he expresses it in Incurable, where “the Self and its powerful trail” is nothing more than the residue represented by the suspension points of the unfinished discourse and the image of the scattered being: “From my slumber I have been talking, I have been writing. The morning is in me, it contains me / —I open my eyes to recognize myself, I touch my illuminated flesh, I know myself to be abyss and representation: mere residue of the morning… That: three suspension points.” More forceful, if possible, this idea of significant insignificance unfolds in “Antes de tirar la basura.” There the garbage embodies our ominous footprint, our passage through life, because the detritus will remain:

[…] on the same planet where we suffer

with this matter of ours, the body, the tears,
the outstretched and open hands

that one day will be garbage and should not be thrown out
but deposited again in the world

for the celebrations, the mutations, the marvel
of being even at the bottom of the garbage dumps.

One might say that El desprendimiento contains the epic of a man who has gone through day and night, through the planet and its caverns, through the daytime nightmare and the sleepless vigils, through the euphoria of the young and the tense (always tense like David’s sling) calm of the father: the itinerary of the man who is tired, yes, but also of the man who does not tire of writing and (re)writing (himself). Because he who lives with such intensity and writes with more impetus also has to invent a means to dissect the phenomenal universe. Rather than putting the muse, inspiration, the duende, the aura or the iron discipline before himself, David dissociates himself from those who are forced to explain what poetry is or should be. In his case, he does not conceive the poetic act as a state or an alignment of the stars or a foreign illumination, but as an effect that literally runs through the reality of things, beings and phenomena. This is the Davidian poetics, the sharp optics of a poetry made of flesh and blood and blood and memory and pain and black suns of melancholy:

I would not want to add the style of my statement
to that of those. Let me just ask
the curious reader
to translate and understand (“sharp edge
to cut time into two pieces
of mirror, of syllable or fire, of warm clothing or
hospitable nakedness”)

the brief English sentence
that heads these lines.

“Sharp as a Razor Blade” is the title of the poem. I don’t know if I understand, but I can offer a hardened reader’s eye version: sharp as a razor blade. This is how David Huerta’s poetry operates, which, just as it recalls the thorns and the Stations of the Cross of Tlatelolco, demands justice for the students of Ayotzinapa. In the end, it could be said that El desprendimiento shows how its author dissects, scalpel in hand, everything he touches: a curious Midas that forces the reader to see their own newly discovered viscera and the longing to be just that: a sentient and dying man who testifies the passage of his species, and of his gender, through the divine garbage dump of the world.

Antonio Cajero Vázquez: Mexican researcher, professor and academic. He holds a degree in Latin American Letters from the UAEM and a PhD in Hispanic Literature from El Colegio de México. He is the author of critical editions of Desvelo / Línea (2018) and Perseo vencido (2010), by Gilberto Owen, and El luto humano (2014), by José Revueltas. A specialist in the work of Jorge Luis Borges, he authored the volumes El texto y sus contextos: Borges recicla a Borges (2017) and Palimpsestos del joven Borges. Writings and rewritings of Fervor de Buenos Aires (1923) (2013). He is a professor in the Literary Studies Program at El Colegio de San Luis.


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