But leave me the machine of blue colors

Four poems by Alfonsina Storni: one from the anthology Nine Latin American Poets, ed. and tr. Rachel Benson (1968); two from the collection Alfonsina Storni: Selected Poems, ed. Marion Freeman, tr. Marion Freeman, Mary Crow, Jim Normington, and Kay Short (White Pine Press, Secret Weavers Series, 1987); and one from the collection My Heart Flooded with Water: Selected Poems, by Alfonsina Storni, ed. and tr. Orlando Ricardo Menes (Latin American Literary Review Press, 2009).


“Sierra

An invisible hand
silently caresses
the sad pulp
of the rolling worlds.

Someone, I don’t know who,
has steeped my heart
in sweetness.

In the August snow
the blossom of the peach tree –
early flowering –
opens to the sun.

Stretched out on the sierra’s
ochre ridge,
a frozen
woman of granite;
the wind howls
the grief of her lonely bosom.

Butterflies
of moon
sip
her frozen
breasts
by night.

And on my eyelids,
a tear swells
older than my body.”

Source: Nine Latin American Poets, edited and translated by Rachel Benson (1968)


“You Want Me White

You’d like me to be white as dawn,
You’d like me to be made of foam,
You wish I were mother of pearl,
A lily
Chaste above all others.
Of delicate perfume.
A closed bud.

Not one ray of the moon
Should have filtered me,
Not one daisy
Should have called me sister.
You want me to be snowy,
You want me to be white,
You want me to be like dawn.

You who have held all the wineglasses
In your hand,
Your lips stained purple
With fruit and honey
You who in the banquet
Crowned with young vines
Made toasts with your flesh to Bacchus.
You who in the gardens
Black with Deceit
Dressed in red
Ran to your Ruin.

You who keep your skeleton
Well preserved, intact,
I don’t know yet
Through what miracles
You want to make me white
(God forgive you),
You want to make me chaste
(God forgive you),
You want to make me like dawn!

Run away to the woods;
Go to the mountain;
Wash your mouth;
Get to know the wet earth
With your hands;
Feed your body
With bitter roots;
Drink from the rocks;
Sleep on the white frost;
Renew your tissue
With the salt of rocks and water;
Talk to the birds
And get up at dawn.
And when your flesh
Has returned to you,
and when you have put
Your soul back into it,
Your soul which was left entangled
In all the bedrooms,
Then, my good man,
Ask me to be white,
Ask me to be snowy,
Ask me to be chaste.”

Source: Alfonsina Storni: Selected Poems, edited by Marion Freeman, translated by Marion Freeman, Mary Crow, Jim Normington, and Kay Short (White Pine Press, Secret Weavers Series, 1987. This poem was translated by Marion Freeman and Mary Crow)


“And the Head Began to Burn

On the black
wall
a square
opened up
that looked out
over the void.

And the moon rolled
up to the window;
it stopped
and said to me:
“I’m not moving from here;
I’m looking at you.

I don’t want to grow
or get thin.
I’m the infinite
flower
that opens up
in the square hole
in your house.

I no longer want
to roll on
behind
the lands
that you don’t know,
my butterfly,
sipper of shadows.

Or raise phantoms
over the far off
cupolas
that drink me.

I’m watching
I see you.”

And I didn’t answer.
A head was sleeping
under my hands.

White,
like you,
moon.

The wells of its eyes
held a dark
water
streaked
with luminous snakes.

And suddenly
my head
began to burn
like the stars
at twilight.

And my hands
were stained
with a phosphorescent
substance.

And with it
I burn
the houses
of men,
the forests
of beasts.”

Source: Alfonsina Storni: Selected Poems, edited by Marion Freeman, translated by Marion Freeman, Mary Crow, Jim Normington, and Kay Short (White Pine Press, Secret Weavers Series, 1987. This poem was translated by Marion Freeman)


“Siren

Take away time’s whirlwind,
sky’s cobalt, the garments
of my September tree, the gaze
of he who opens sun in my chest.

Extinguish the roses on my face,
shoo the laughter in my lips,
eat away the bread of life between
my teeth; deny the branch of my verses.

But leave me the machine of blue colors
that frees its pulleys in my forehead
and a vivid thought among the ruins;

I will raise its hopes like a siren
in a field of mutilated beings, and by its power
broken clouds will go to heaven, sails raised.”

Source: My Heart Flooded with Water: Selected Poems, by Alfonsina Storni, edited and translated by Orlando Ricardo Menes (Latin American Literary Review Press, 2009)


La Grange Batelière, by Leonor Fini, 1977.

This post is a contribution to the project Invisible Cities, hosted by Yamini (shakespeareandspice);  Nicole (nicole is here to learn); Natalie (Curious Reader); Stephanie (time to read!); Michael (Knowledge Lost); Wil (MyBookishEmpire); and Agnese (Beyond the Epilogue)

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