Luis Benitez

A Heron in Buenos Aires

A Heron in Buenos Aires (Ravenna Press) is the latest collection from Argentinean poet Luis Benitez and comes after a long stream of impressive books: nine poetry collections, two essays and two novels, published in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela and this one, in America. It is edited by Beatriz Olga Allocati in association with translators Veronica Miranda and Cooper Renner.

In this, his first collection since 2005, he examines the cosmos: the place of humans, plants and animals within it; power and acceptance.

“From the back of time an animal is watching me:
it knows what I write because before I existed
it was already a name. It is the aurochs.
It daydreams the one will take it for a bull.
Sometimes it is a bird, a river, the wind
and sometimes something that leaves huge drops of blood
in the boughs and a footstep
going away, solid, invisible.”    The Aurochs

His is a world where humans, plants and animals co-exist: he communes with them; observes them but he does not want to rule them.
“I swam to that place where
you neither love nor hate,
you merely float over an eternal present,
and everything you see is your contemporary:”

He leaves us at the end of The Pearl Fisherman, the first poem in the collection, with:

“Those who are afraid of the shore
do not know they are walking on the sea.”

and this is something that resonates through the book, as if it is a warning that to uncover truth we must take risks.

Throughout the collection he looks at the cosmos as a stranger might, examining every aspect of existence. His eye is critical, discerning, his record of these meetings profound:
“Into the lives of others like a migratory face
we enter with violence, or caution,
aware of being the field which others cross.”

He goes on to say:

“We can’t retain anything nor nobody;
each glance is the pavement of the way we’re going.
When everything stays put, He will say that He has arrived.”   The Foreigner

This is an intelligent selection of poems where at times he is a witness to events, at other times his poems are empirically based on the evidence of his senses. It is a short collection of just 32 poems but it is filled to the brim.