Part of the Landscape

by H.E. Francis Issue: Spring 2018

For Alicia Alonso

The voices were in the walls again, close. Her fingers could touch them. She strained to hear whose they were, what they were saying. And straining, she woke to the voices. Ward and Alf and the kids were still opening scallops in the cellar.

She rose, feeling the September cool, and for the hundredth-hundred night in her lifetime, with the light switch she sprang alive in the mirror where once her sister, and her mother, and her grandmother had materialized, and whispered to herself, “You, Ruth Wickford.”

And she descended, muttering to Ruth Wickford.

To put the kettle on and go outside to the cellar door.

To scold Ward, drag the kids up, feed them hot chocolate—school tomorrow.

But she was not prepared—night was bright, the hard showers had washed the air clean and left such glitters. Look at the hydrangeas! Flattened. Their faded heads lay prostrate as penitents.

She was drawn aside—not by the hydrangeas but by clodhoppers, legs—

A man was lying by the bushes.

Jesus God dead sick out? she mouthed.

And she was kneeling, and drew up his head and slapped lightly, then shook—

An arm struck out—“No”—and slumped. “No” broke again as she tried to raise a shoulder, realizing she was all the time whispering, “Are you all right, sleepy, hurt, sick, exhausted, you need a doctor—what?”

“No, no doctor, never.” His sound was hard, mean. “Let me—”

But his body could not protest.

“Don’t you move,” she said.

She moved—swift over the wet lawn—and raised the cellar door, went down the four steps, halted by the almost palpable odor and the stark sight of buckets of white scallops in a wet glitter under one giant naked bulb on a cord, and the five faces white and blank as the scallops, and the knives glittering too in the suspended hands.

“Ward—” She beckoned and said to the others, “You finish,” and went back out—with Ward.



“A Vet. He must be—from the clothes.” Those G.I. boots and camouflaged overalls and stuffed backpack. “And sick. Help me.”

“Not in the house?”
“Of course the house, silly.”


“Get under him, Ward, and lift.”

While turning, raising, tugging, the Vet was propped between them, latched. His head

bobbed so close to her face she smelled his breath, clean. He muttered, “You’re strong,’ and the head fell against her shoulder and hung.

Once through the door, Ward said, “Now what?”

“In my room.”

“You can’t put him in your bed.”

“Is there another?”

Then they were there. “Hold him, Ward. I’ll strip him.”

“You’ll what?”

“You heard me.”

She saw that, though she’d buried a sister and mothered his children and kept house, Ward did not know his sister-in-law, whose fingers, fast, now undid the high shoes, buttons, belt, zipper.

“Whew! Not even scallops smell so—”

“No.” The man’s armpits, groin, feet stank. “Lay him down.” Hard to do even for Ward, not so tall or muscled as this one, if stocky and strong. “I’ll wash him down.”

“You’ll wash him down?”

“You getting deaf? Go out and get his pack.”

After, she said, “Set it there—” In straight sight, it would be the first thing he saw, no doubt the first thing he’d want, part of his body, surely his back would be strange without it.

“When Alf goes home, tell the kids we’ve a stranger in the house. I don’t want them in my room. I’ll get them off to school in the morning.”

“No. They’re scalloping with me tomorrow.”

“Out of school again?”

“Till ten—they can miss gym. That’ll give them near five hours work. I need them.”

“Ten o’clock—for sure?”

He looked hard, and nodded.

“And if he dies? You thought this out—what we’d be in for?”

She went at once to wash the man—slow, careful, raising an arm, a leg, down the long limpness, over all of him. He filled her bed, very long but with a grace, and broad, though that was not so apparent for he was thin, hard everywhere.

Touching him, abruptly she was experiencing a man’s body in a potato field and her own rush of supple madness, and such a fast unreeling of memory came that she almost cried out at how time clings to the skull and speaks, or shouts, at its own will. The dead did not relinquish possession. They took on new life when they died, and different. Ramon had made her a woman who had been left a farm and money and freedom.

She dried and covered him and felt his forehead—hot. He went taut under the hand.

She opened the window a moment to clear the air.

Voices scattered her tangle of thoughts and drew her to the kitchen. They’d brought the fish smell, so heavy the air seemed viscid.

She saw that Ward—grudging he looked—had told them: they were too silent, all curious eyes riveted with restraint, and expectant.

She laughed. “You look like the Godfather’s gang.”

Mark, the same string-bean length as the stranger, stood high over his father. Between, David gave his lucid Jesus-in-the-temple gaze. Kathy chafed her knuckles against her thigh, anxious.

“Have your milk, get up to bed, but wash good first—stink the house up pretty for a change.”

They all laughed—for the man’s reek—and broke up. “You’ll all be tending to yourselves a bit, okay?”

They were quick to drink, run the water, and sink into silence.

She went back—to listen, to watch.

If it were not pneumonia, it was the nearest thing. For long stretches his breath wrenched, then sank into brief doldrums; his body burned and cooled, burned. She had promised—no doctor, but—though remembering the man’s look—fear?—she did call Pepperell at his office and Rennie at the pharmacy, her excuse “one of the family,” and stayed close to their instructions. Yes, she went that far. And at the least sound, or move of the head, lids, the tongue over his lips, she bent over. She spooned chicken broth, juice, hot cereal, milk till his teeth clamped the spoon or his jaw went rigid, or he shoved—delirious in sweat, in burn—and his mumble, whisper, cries made her wonder what jungle, city, dumps, alleys, basements he was traveling through to reach that hydrangea bush.

And nights she kept him bundled, vigilant, for he tore free of blankets. He sweat and sweat; she changed whole sets of bedding, carefully rolling him to one side. She wanted to help because mornings at five they went scalloping, went to school and back, then changed again to scallop till dark. Between vigils came their voices in the cellar, dark to midnight, Ward and his helper, Alf, and the kids, replenishing the strong smell, biting but good—because it meant work, their presence, action. And when she did go down to watch them toss the shells into baskets as they flicked the scallops into buckets, the kids were all questions, though she had only the one answer:

“When he’s well, we’ll go from there.”

It was three days before the man really saw her.

Now and again his eyes flicked open with a far fearful stare, only to close. Then his lids flicked like sudden shades. His gaze was naked as light. Pinned her. He did not move it. He studied. He saw. It spurred a rush in her—at seeing, being seen. She smiled, but with a relief so great she was trembling—she would spew or let water.

“You see—no doctor. I promised.”

No doubt he remembered.

When he tried to move, he was caged in his own weakness. Then his eyes darted—caged too, it seemed.

“It’s there. No one has touched it, or your clothes. I’ve bagged what you had on. You must wait. But patience is something you already know, isn’t it?”

From the fall of his gaze she knew he knew patience and confessed his body his prison.

“You’re hungry?”

She did not rush him with heavy foods; he had surely lived on nuts and wheat germ, what dry things he could carry.

“Don’t be ashamed if I feed you. Your arms and legs won’t obey you, believe me.”

Disbelieving, he struggled.

“You must learn I don’t lie, my single rare virtue. It’s why the kids and Ward trust me, or have to.”

But he could not yet humor. His lids fluttered. He sank and fought to return, and sank.

The longer she sat, the more his breath became hers; and sometimes, drifting, she went down with him and walked or crouched with the dead weight of a pack or rifle or lay burning, soaked, in mud, water, sweat, in jungle, and began to feel a presence, and the terror in her blood struggled up into a cry when his own broke at a sight she could not see. But her presence assured him where he was. And she was quick to dampen his forehead, wash his face down into the beard so thick with strength it thrilled her hand. She was fast too with the bedpan and kept the air fresh but let no drafts menace him.

He must be near forty, she calculated from the thin rivulets of gray hair running from his hairline and penetrating the thick dark, and from fine lines in his face. His eyes stared, yet seemed to smolder.

She looked into them with a startle—he could be studying the enemy—but it startled too that even at fifty she could blush and betray. Her talk quivered because his body returned her to time gone and she saw that other, herself, young, and saw Ramon in the house he had taken her to—a mere hop, skip, and a jump from this room—when she told him she’d missed her period. He’d wanted a wife, but only her, who had resisted—she would leave this town for New York to study dance—but whenever Ramon was close (she was frenzied to avoid that), his touch numbed her mind to submission. In the throes he was caught in his own kind of jungle, which she no doubt sent him into; there, he was indifferent and violent and even cruel and did not consider her body, or perhaps only that. After, she could not recognize the animal she had turned into or the man who turned kind and implored her to marry him. Had she touched only part of his mystery, which ever since had lain dormant in her, waiting for the resurrection?

At dark each day, home from scalloping, the kids couldn’t wait to ask about the stranger. When at last he was ready, she presented them.

“This is Mark, old enough for the draft, so he’s curious about you. He’s the spit and image of my sister,” meaning a long head and jaw prominent as a Hapsburg’s. David with his tow-headed halo went straight to the bed with his in-the-temple confidence in a barrage of questions: “What’s in your pack? Where you headed? What for? Were you in a war? When? What’d you do?” And when he threatened to sit on the bed and she saw the man neither moved nor blinked, she said, “If you give him a chance, he might talk sometime.”

He didn’t, but what moved him, she saw, was Kathy—his fingers moved, and tightening of lips and a squint made her feel what he might have seen overseas with other children. She herself felt too much—there was a threat in that—an understanding so tranquil that it had kept Roman, in his fury, constant.

She said, “Kathy opens scallops like any man, she gets all A’s in school, she’s an example to the boys, who do not take the lesson!” Laughing, she gently pressed Kathy closer to the bedside.

“I love visitors,” Kathy touched his hand, which did not move.

He turned his head.

But Ruth Wickford knew the invisible wall.

So the kids would come before and after school or after scalloping or opening, late, if he were awake, and stand and look or talk, whether he spoke or not. You would think—from no talk on the road?—his voice had atrophied.

Ward worried about the neighbors.

“You never did before.” She laughed. “You men!”

She saw Ward take the measure of her, which he had never done before either; this woman, Ruth Wickford, who had brought up his children, was suddenly a mystery, or maybe a woman.

Though the man was weak, he could sit for a while—he tired; and from pride he would want to go on his own to the bathroom, but must set shame aside when she had to manage him—with talk mostly, which perhaps eased him, though her talk startled herself—at the journey she was taking, farther and farther back.

“Because then my sister, Kathryn, died. And Ward would never—he was so independent and loved her so—he’d never marry again, no, or dream of it; that would be such a violation. And Kathryn was friend and sister as well as mother to the kids. She was a miracle, she could make herself into Mark or David or Kathy. So, you can see, the heart of us died. I had to be it, but I couldn’t be Kathryn.

“I’m Rod. Rod Brush,” he said.

The voice she had waited for was too unrecognizable, shabby as a grazed object, but it stirred silt deep in her.

But his name was all—in confidence, in courtesy?

“Kathy was a baby, David two, and Mark six. Kathryn knew she was going. Just before the last, in the hospital, she closed herself off with me to talk about Ward and each child, to be sure I understood thoroughly what their strengths and weaknesses were, though I’d lived with them years and years, but she wanted to be sure—”

In the silence and staring, what did he hear? What could make the silence in him so inviolable?

But he was fierce to listen. Was he hoarding words for a dry season?

“On her last day out before she went to the hospital, we’d gone wandering because she’d wanted to see place after place she and Ward knew—the beach where they met, spots they’d picnicked at, Ward’s house where the children were born, then this one we’d come back to—”

The drop of the cellar door outside halted her—it was after midnight—and then they were standing in the doorway.

“Look what I did in school today.” Kathy displayed her drawing of him, incredibly long and thin, gigantic as Gulliver. “I had to say the story for Show and Tell. The kids were jealous—nothing ever happens to them!” They all laughed while he studied himself in crayon.

Mark said, “You look great—you’ll be playing ball with us soon.”

“Or scalloping,” David said. “You know how?” Rod Brush shook his head. “It’s easy—when you get the knack, hey, Dad?”

Ward set his hand on David’s head, but he ducked. “Jees, Dad, your hand stinks of scallops.”

“That means go scrub. You too, Ward.” She smiled, but saw Ward was not accustomed—to dismissal? Was it gall in his look? Of all, only he would not capitulate to Gulliver. He remained alien, or possessive—his children, his wife, his wife’s sister.

Rod lowered his legs over the side, braced and stood. She did not move to support. He followed the furniture and the wall to the bathroom. She felt exultation at his independence, and her own reaction—and then a sinking, and went to her cot in the back hall.

All night her sleep was fitful with voices—who? why?—for sounds teased and evaded. Yearning, she followed a voice, lost it, was drawn back, teased ahead, then resisted.

In the morning when she found him slumped at the foot of the bed breathing heavy, with

one leg in his trousers—he had opened the plastic bag—she said, “You shouldn’t rush things.” She drew the trousers off. “Now, raise your legs.” She covered him. “Give yourself a day more. Going to the bathroom alone’s the beginning. Maybe Ward or Mark can—” But his gaze went glassy, so she fended. “Try wings then!” Because she knew it was not just Ward, not any of them—he would free himself from all hands, and completely.

“Here, go through your pockets and your pack and I’ll wash your things. It’s about time, isn’t it? Tomorrow you might want to sit out in the sun.”

And the next day, the way his camouflage matched the fading leaves, he might have been a rain-washed bush on the lawn. She brought him a beer.

“One will give you an appetite.” Though from long travels and no doubt from stoicism, he could survive on bird pickings.

Except for fine streaks, his hair was as black as the earth she loved to dig and tamp, and sun made his eyes as green as the Sound sometimes was. His silence, or so many years of her own, made her want to fill his with words, or perhaps because he was free to go—and would, soon.

     That freedom made her own seem a prison.

“You won’t believe this, but years and years ago I was insane to be—don’t laugh—a ballet dancer.”

He laughed. But his gaze measured, as it had a hundred hundred times since she’d found him.

“You still could.”

At his words—he’d given so few—dreamy an instant, she felt she could: despite fifty, she was slim and trim from work and hard swimming.

“I came close to going—a couple of times. The last time, Kathryn was pregnant. Ward had lost his job, and they owed—so I moved in. She had only Mark then. She’d nearly died of pneumonia, Ward was frantic, it was winter. He’d work at anything but times were bad, this end of the Island’s hard anyway. Kathryn was so long sick, when Ward got sick too. It would never end, so I sold the place and stayed, and we just went on…. Still, at each turn of the way, I thought I’ll get to New York, I’ll dance yet.”

She did not look up for there was the whirl of a dancer, so visual she could believe enough to touch her.

Whatever went? What stayed?

“I had some money and property—from my man—which I didn’t want. I felt they weren’t really mine, they were a blight, a punishment he didn’t intend. And I was probably looking for a way to get rid of them. Did you ever feel that way about anything?”

“I keep walking.”

And it struck her his travels, like her own, would never cease, for there was the never-ending travel inside you, which others could not know.

At dusk, when Ward’s truck drove up and the five unloaded the scallops, they all gathered around Rod Brush in the kitchen, awed at his transformation. “But your shoes!” Kathy exulted because he was wearing Ward’s slippers. “Wow!” Mark fingered the coveralls. He was itching for war. “Was the war bad?” “Rough,” Rod Brush said. And simply hearing Rod speak caused David to fire his barrage: “Where were you? What’d you do? Kill anybody? Were you wounded?” “Cut it out, David,” Ward said in a pitch that precipitated silence. Because he hadn’t been to war? Because Rod Brush was sitting in his place at table? Because she herself wasn’t the image of Kathryn? But Kathy saved them. “Don’t be a Silly Billy,” she said in a miraculous echo of her mother.

So words sprang, and ghosts.

She was amused to see how quickly they erupted again into talk, circling Rod’s silence like a pylon, answering their own questions till even he was amused at the man they were describing: “He’s got a secret food reserve.” “In his pack.” “Sneaks into the refrigerator at night.” “Lives on air.” But when Ward said, “We’ve got a long night’s work ahead,” they chomped, gulped, guzzled, and she returned to her chores. Rod Brush had no need of a nurse behind his closed door.

In her cot she listened—the voices they released made a frenzy that took her farther and farther back until she was halted by Ramon’s silence, which thundered her blood and drowned out all sound. She hung on a ledge. Tomorrow she would dare to venture into Rod Brush’s silence.

He sat in the corner of the yard, facing the house. Was it to control the terrain? He was a trained eye and ear: even his skin and organs must be trained. Would his sense fix him a soldier forever?

Only the second day up—how quickly he was regaining who he was.

When she joined him, late, she ventured. “He never spoke either—Ramon.”

Not for years had she spoken the name.

“But you did?”

“When do I ever stop talking!” She laughed. And he did.

He was dark as a priest against the fall of dark.

“He was filled with a fury.” Was everything a fury you had to learn what to do with? “He tugged—in silence. His hand or even his breath could flick my skin and make me go numb—he was a tide, and so strong, like a sound, and the sound drove me to madness—”

He murmured, “Yes.” When she looked into him, she saw her yellow dress in a last blaze filling his eyes.

“Is war like that?”

His lids did not so much as flick.

“The first time made me pregnant and I wanted to escape, but I couldn’t—not to dance, not to anything. This—place, plants, fish, sea—is in my blood, all the sights, smells… I wouldn’t marry him, didn’t; but he knew he could make who I was die into somebody else.” Ramon’s sad dark eyes and his voice pleading were closer than skin. “I went with him, to have the baby. He didn’t know how to show tenderness—now I think that—unless violence is tenderness, and I couldn’t live without the quiet moments that make up all the life between. And he knew that. And smoldered.”

Her foot touched out and crackled the leaves.

“He drowned and was never found. I must have driven him to it. Maybe he wanted to free me. Why do we drive away the part of us we desire most? But how do we know? And then my body betrayed me—I aborted. After came all the years with Ward and Kathryn. I went to work at the library, but I’ve cut back. Strange how we end up.”

“We’re here.”

He would give no edge.

If Rod Brush would let her, she could hear the horror he must carry inside him. But she felt the stone, or diamond, in him. He would not condone pity. He was the tested metal the world wasted, yet his presence, wherever he wandered, would remind them, if they would see, that they were poorer without it.

She said, “What made you come to this town at the end of the world?” For there was nothing but ocean beyond.

“Ever since then, I’ve been following my feet—”

She saw how he stared—too hard.

“—trying to find the true country I fought for.”

Now she heard the first weakness in stone, or diamond, there was pain, but not of the body.

And—? But she could not mouth it.

“And you’re my first real glimpse of it.”

She felt herself burn as his words passed over her flesh, her nipples went hard as they did sometimes when she worked with a frenzy, and a quick rush rose in her—oh, Ramon, if you were here to forgive!—and spilled and left her with Rod Brush; and she saw how he saw her here in the dark grass, with the straightened but withered hydrangeas, the mums and the maples and the sound of the sea and a breeze that might be her own breath.

She could not move for the moving inside her.

He moved. “Time for the gang.”

She rose and met the burning eye of late sun in the back door pane.

“Look here— “A grasshopper clung to the warm glass. “The cool air numbs them.” Gently she picked it off, warming it in her hand. “She’s planted eggs in the ground by the gardenia. Come spring, the bush’ll one day suddenly be covered with tiny brown grasshoppers just starting out. She waited till it leaped, leaving a wet brown stain, and ended bobbing on a blade.

“David, you can work here. Kathy, we’ll go into the front room.”

All evening long, despite their talk, and all the night long, she could hear from the cellar Ward’s voice louder than usual, claiming his house.

In the morning she woke to air warm as down—Indian Summer!—a flow almost too powerful, a herald of winter. Enjoy.

Ward scowled at having to go alone, but drove off to Alf.

The kids erupted—they would play, not work, so were glad for school.

Again all that night Ward and Alf opened scallops alone, and early she woke to the voices—

And bolted straight up—at the absence of a sound now familiar.

He was gone.

She dressed and went to the room: of Rod Brush only the hollow in the sheet remained, and a pungent smell of hair and his skin.

The air took him. Time to go south while the getting’s good?

She swelled with his journey, saw what he saw. The sights reeled.

Staying, she went. And would hear. You, Ruth Wickford, see—there’s the Atlantic, all of Brooklyn, the islands. They would be standing high on the Verrazano Bridge watching sun burn off the fog. And ahead was Jersey.

She called them down to breakfast.

“He’s gone. I can have my room back. You won’t be tripping over me and my things in the hall.”

“But I was going to show him how to scallop,” David said.

“He’d have been good to hunt deer with,” Mark said.

Kathy cried.

Ward said, “Now, honey, he wouldn’t like you to cry.” Blight was gone from his voice.

“You kids help your father this morning, but from now on we observe school time religiously, or you’ll end up without a lick of sense.”

“They’re not that dumb,” Ward said, “but I am.”

They laughed.

“That’s why—” But she laughed too. “—they must be.”

The morning was a maze she led Rod Brush through, abrupt turns of memory triggered by the thought of an old photo of her first trip on the ferry with Gram, in starched white organdy with wise belt and ruffles and a white hat which spread sun, Ma’s old egg cutter, a 1939 World Fair plate from Gram’s old kitchen. Rod Brush was traveling beside her, and she would speak, she would go on speaking till her life was unfurled, and he whispered I know, Ruth Wickford, keep moving, for she was going down her own blood but had not yet reached her dark core.

Between journeys she worked with a frenzy till long after noon. With hunger, she halted. But the air—it teased her out, where sky fell into oblivion over the Sound. She went past the last houses, crossed the potato fields, through woods to the cliff, down to where she shimmered, and strode over the white stones onto sand to the great boulders, and leaned—the stone was warm, the sea a slow seethe, and such desire came over her that she surveyed the beach—nobody—and undressed and waded in—

The cold leaped her blood, she would plunge, but a shield of light underwater stopped her—a skate lay on a ledge, its wide fins and long tail still. She waited, then took a step. The skate did not move. When she went closer, it slid over the edge—so she followed: it moved in, deeper. She laughed and dived under, and as she passed, the skate moved with her—she kept close, riding its light down, up, till the skate reached a crest and stood straight up. White fire broke from its underside, then it curved up over her and hovered, and descended, and returned, and descended—She followed where it turned gray, darkening, till she could barely see where it lay. She faltered, swam toward it, then stilled—and hung so long still that she seemed to penetrate and absorb her, move through her, and when the skate made a sole flutter and hung on the edge of darkness like a veil and so subtly insinuated that she did not know when it eased into true dark. Did she dare? But dark drew, and she yearned— She slipped into blind dark, fused into dark, stilled her body and listened, listened till silence itself whispered. It whispered and seethed and she seethed and blood thundered till she would dissolve into sound—but no, no, not—her breath near broke, she must see, see, and desire impelled her, her arms and legs thrust and thrust, she speared straight up, pierced light and broke the surface, sucking choking gasping. Sky and cliffs beat, pines shrubs boulders sand settled stark in sun.

It was gulls—how they cried, one mew, then a trail of cries—that recalled her.

In the cloister of boulders she hurriedly dressed.

Stepping out, she saw what had roused the gulls—a man in a trudge.

Rod Brush?


Why…Ward! Something with the kids?

She ran—

And coming hard by, she cried, “What’s happened?”

Which startled him. She saw he had not thought that.

“Nothing. I sent them to school. I went back to the house—”

“At this time of day?”

“—and you weren’t there, so…”

His stare and his wonder affirmed: she was Ruth Wickford. And not Kathryn. For this place—the memory besieged—was Kathryn and Ward’s rendezvous. Making the rounds that last day, she and Kathryn had stopped here.

He said, “You’re not leaving?”


“It’s my day to roam, you go on.” For she knew who was leaving and who was staying. And she mounted the slope, where startled cliff swallows darted and fluttered. In the field, dry stubs crackled and broke underfoot. Seeds clung, and burrs, and pricked; her skirt was covered. She stopped to watch a mole in still hang, but knew it was as alive as she was. She went through the woods and halted at the road and gazed west, where Rod Brush would be traveling, seeking his country. She felt her own, saw it spread before her, glimpses of houses through trees, white steeples piercing green and sky, glimmers of sea.

You’ll know it, Rod Brush.

And she went naming the streets: she named landmarks and businesses, monuments, houses—Peck Waldron Verity Burns White Romero Stulski, Brown…

There was Sarah Brown now in the window. Sarah waved. She flagged back. And passing, she saw herself go by, as Sarah and others must see her. You see? They look out, they say “There goes Ruth Wickford, Kathryn Walsh’s sister, from Booth Street, who lost her baby, whose husband drowned. She’d been at the library years, she looks thin and lithe as a girl but she must be pushing fifty, you can tell by her face.”

We depend—going down the street; shopping; taking the bus; meeting at parades, bake sales, fairs, church, on the beach—because we’re here.

And they can no more remove me from their heads than I can them. Or you, Rod Brush.

How else would we know who we are?

What will you say to me from Jersey and Florida, Texas, Ohio, California?

She stopped—to listen—for you could never know when what you carried would speak.

H.E. Francis

H.E. Francis is author of two novels and five collections of stories, many reprinted in the O.Henry, Best American, and Pushcart Prize volumes. He lives in Madrid and Huntsville and translates distinguished Argentine literature. His collections have won the Iowa Award and other awards.