It’s ten. Evening. The room is in half light.
My sister’s sleeping, her hand on her chest; although
her face is very white, her bed entirely white,
the light, as if knowing, almost doesn’t show.
She sinks into the bed the way pinkish fruit
does, into the deep mattress of soft grass.
Wind brushes her breasts, lifts them resolute-
ly chaste, measuring seconds as they pass.
I cover her tenderly with the white spread
and keep her lovely hands safe from the air.
On tiptoes I close all the doors near her bed,
leave the windows open, pull the curtain, prepare
for night. A lot of noise outside. Enough to drown
in: quarreling men, women with the juiciest
gossip. Hatred drifting upward, storekeepers shouting down
below. O voices, stop! Don’t touch her nest.
Now my sister is weaving her silk cocoon
like a skillful worm. Her cocoon is a dream.
She weaves a pod with threads of a gold gleam.
Her life is spring. I am the summer afternoon.
She has only fifteen Octobers in her eyes
and so the eyes are bright, clear, and clean.
She thinks that storks from strange lands fly unseen,
leaving blond children with small red feet. Who tries
to come in? Is it you, now, the good wind?
You want to see her? Come in. But first cool
my forehead a second. Don’t freeze the pool
of unwild dreams I sense in her. Undisciplined
they want to flood in and stay here, like you,
staring at that whiteness, at those tidy cheeks,
those fine circles under her eyes that speak
simplicity. Wind, you would see them and, falling to
your knees, cry. If you love her at all, be good
to her, for she will flee from wounding light.
Watch your word and intention. Her soul like wood
or wax is shaped, but rubbing makes a blight.
Be like that star which in the night stares at
her, whose eye is filtered through glassy thread.
That star rubs her eyelashes, turning like a cat
quiet in the sky, not to wake her in her bed.
Fly, if you can, among her snowy trees.
Pity her soul! She is immaculate.
Pity her soul! I know everything, but she’s
like heaven and knows nothing. Which is her fate.
Today my mother and sisters
came to see me.
I had been alone a long time
with my poems, my pride . . . almost nothing.
My sister—the older—is grown up,
is blondish. An elemental dream
goes through her eyes: I told the youngest
“Life is sweet. Everything bad comes to an end.”
My mother smiled as those who understand souls
tend to do;
She placed two hands on my shoulders.
She’s staring at me
and tears spring from my eyes.
We are together in the warmest room
of the house.
Spring sky . . . to see it
all the windows were opened.
And while we talked together quietly
of so much that is old and forgotten,
My sister—the youngest—interrupts:
“The swallows are flying by us.”
LIGHTHOUSE IN THE NIGHT
The sky a black sphere,
the sea a black disk.
The lighthouse opens
its solar fan on the coast.
Spinning endlessly at night,
whom is it searching for
when the mortal heart
looks for me in my chest?
Look at the black rock
where it is nailed down.
A crow digs endlessly
but no longer bleeds.
(trans. from the Spanish by Aliki and Willis Barnstone)
Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toenails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own.
The new issue of Poetry Now, the quarterly publication of the Sacramento Poetry Center, is now available at poetrynowblog.wordpress.com/. They’re also looking for submissions for their next issue. Check it out!
Katy Brown writes that she has noticed that the Guardian (London) has begun doing poetry again. See Poem of the Week at www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2017/nov/20/poem-of-the-week-yoga-for-leaders-and-others-by-philip-fried/. Katy Brown is, by the way, a Pushcart Prize Nominee for 2017 from The Poetry Box! Congratulations, Katy!
Speaking of The Poetry Box, Editor Shawn Aveningo Sanders writes that their new issue of The Poeming Pigeon: Love Poems is available at www.thepoetrybox.com/5Bookstore.html?mc_cid=657594da27&mc_eid=b02a0f9fa2/, and she also encourages you to submit poetry (starting Dec. 15) for the next issue, which will be on the subject of “Poems from the News”. See www.thepoetrybox.com/ThePoemingPigeon.html?mc_cid=657594da27&mc_eid=b02a0f9fa2#opencalls for details. Submissions end Jan. 31.
Throughout February, 2018, The Poetry Box will accept submissions of chapbook manuscripts for their contest. Details to come later.
—Medusa, reminding you of tonight's Sac. Poetry Center benefit at the Millers’ home tonight. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.
For a biography of Alfonsina Storni, go to allpoetry.com/Alfonsina-Storni/.
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