Friday, October 25, 2013

Like The Gazelle

—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Gabriela Mistral, 1889-1957

Today I saw a woman plowing a furrow. Her hips are 
broad, like mine, for love, and she goes about her work
bent over the earth.

I caressed her waist; I brought her home with me. She
will drink rich milk from my own glass and bask in the
shade of my arbors growing pregnant with the pregnancy
of love. And if my own breasts be not generous, my son
will put his lips to hers, that are rich.

(trans. from the Spanish by Langston Hughes)


—Gabriela Mistral

Fineness of midnight.
I hear the nodes of the rosebush:
the sap pushes, raising the rose.

I hear 
the burnt stripes of the Bengal
tiger: they don't let him sleep.

I hear 
someone's poem
and in the night it swells in him
like the sand dune.

I hear
my mother asleep,
breathing for us both.
(I sleep inside her.
I'm five.)

I hear the Rhone
descending and carrying me like a father
blind in blind foam.

Then nothing.
I am falling
inside the walls of Arles
full of sun . . .

(trans. by David Garrison)


—Gabriela Mistral

Don't sing: a song
always sticks to your
tongue: the song that was to be surrendered.

Don't kiss: the kiss
by a strange curse
always lingers where the heart doesn't reach.

Pray, pray, for it is pleasing, but know
that your greedy tongue won't say
the only Lord's Prayer to save you.

And don't call on death for mercy,
for in the flesh of immense whiteness
a live shred feels the rock
that smothers you
and the voracious worm upbraiding you.

(trans. by David Garrison)


—Gabriela Mistral

From the icy niche where men placed you
I lower your body to the sunny, poor earth.
They didn't know I too must sleep in it
and dream on the same pillow.

I place you in the sunny ground, with a
mother's sweet care for her napping child,
and the earth will be a soft cradle 
when it receives your hurt childlike body.

I scatter bits of earth and rose dust, 
and in the moon's airy and blue powder
what is left of you is a prisoner.

I leave singing my lovely revenge.
No hand will reach into the obscure depth
to argue with me over your handful of bones.

(trans. by David Garrison)


Today's LittleNip:

—Gabriela Mistral

I feel my heart melting
in the mildness like candles:
my veins are slow oil
and not wine,
and I feel my life fleeing
hushed and gentle like the gazelle.

(trans. by Davis Garrison)



An earnest Kevin Jones reading at Poetry With Legs
at the Shine Cafe last Wednesday night
—Photo by Michelle Kunert