Ranch Road 12, San Marcos

Photo by Raychel Sanner on Unsplash

Dorothy Lawrenson: I started writing in Scots when I was living in Texas – partly motivated by homesickness and a renewed appreciation for my own country’s literature and culture. But in this poem, I wanted to write in Scots while addressing a specifically American scene. The word I’ve used for lightning, foudrie, was coined by the Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid, from the French foudre.

Carlos Llaza: Scots has a strong connection to a particular place and landscape. In my opinion, it is healthy (and rewarding) to take language out of its comfort zone and let it thrive in unfamiliar or unexpected contexts. Dorothy’s poem achieves this masterfully, insufflating new life into both language and place. Here is a bit of Texas constructed in Scots and transformed into Spanish.

Scroll down to see a video of poet and translator reading this poem, with English subtitles.

Ranch Road 12, San Marcos
bi Dorothy Lawrenson

Inby the shooder, Aa trauchle
the gutterie loanin, drookit yird
sookin the sweeshin soond

o fleet watter fae the causey.
The blacktap souchs
wi ilk truck that wins by.

Ae-twa starns glentin
through the smirr – the gloamin
lits fae zinc tae tin

till aw is tint i the mirk
o a lampless pit. Suddent
a glaik o foudrie cracks

the nicht across. Aam blin. Syne
glisks o starns: ae, twa, a thoosan –

stramash o smattert gless
oot owre the crazed causey.

Ranch Road 12, San Marcos
traducido al español por Carlos Llaza

En el arcén, recorro
la trocha de fango; la tierra empapada
succiona el silbo

del agua de la autopista.
Suspiros de brea
con cada camión que pasa.

Una o dos estrellas destellantes
a través de la bruma – las sombras
del ocaso oscilan entre zinc y estaño

hasta que todo se pierde en la oscuridad
de una fosa sin luz. De pronto
un relámpago agrieta

la noche. Estoy ciega. Después
destellos de estrellas: una, dos, miles

revuelta de vidrio en trizas
en la locura del asfalto. 

Ranch Road 12, San Marcos
translated into English by Dorothy Lawrenson

Close in to the shoulder, I trudge
the muddy track, soaked earth
sucking the swishing sound

of running water from the road.
The blacktop sighs
with each truck that goes by.

One or two stars glinting
through the mist – the dusk
shades from zinc to tin

till all is lost in the murk
of a lampless pit. Suddenly
a flash of lightning cracks

the night across. I’m blind. Then
glints of stars: one, two, a thousand –

stramash of shattered glass
across the crazed tarmac.

One comment

  1. Tremendous coming-together of different places and kinds of language! ‘A glaik of foudrie’ is somehow more dramatic than ‘a flash of lightning’, however strange in Texas – where perhaps ‘un relampago’ might be more familiar (given the proximity of Mexico)! I like that ‘stramash’ appears untranslateable for the English version!

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