But leave me the machine of blue colors

In recent months I’ve been re-visiting the haunting and wonderfully defiant poems of the Argentine writer Alfonsina Storni (1892-1938), whose work I was briefly introduced to in a Spanish literature course many years ago. Storni is considered not only a leading poet in the Latin-American modernist period but also instrumental in establishing feminist discourse in Latin American literature.

“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.

Translated by Orlando Ricardo Menes

 

(In Spanish)

“La sirena”

Llévate el torbellino de las horas
y el cobalto del cielo y el ropaje
de mi árbol de septiembre y la mirada
del que me abría soles en el pecho.

Apágame las rosas de la cara
y espántame la risa de los labios
y mezquíname el pan entre los dientes,
vida; y el ramo de mis versos, niega.

Más déjame la máquina de azules
que suelta sus poleas en la frente
y un pensamiento vivo entre las ruinas;

lo haré alentar como sirena en campo
de mutilados y las rotas nubes
por él se harán al cielo, vela en alto.