Excerpt from The War of the Orchards

Translated from Spanish by Jeannine Marie Pitas

In the dark air of the night, of the room, a new saint is walking. I watch him; I know him, even without seeing, without looking at him. Like the figs he tastes of grass and sugar—grass and snow. Perhaps within a minute he will show himself, his long hair, his blue eyes; then again, maybe not. Like a fan, he has sandalwood bones. I follow his path, his itinerary. He passes the black doors, over my grandfather’s dream, my grandmother’s dream, she who sleeps with a crown of dough, perfect jellies. He enters the dreams of the girls, as still as dolls in their boxes; he goes into the kitchen and inhales the fragrance of the earth’s sweet things, the glasses of squash and orange blossom. He floats out to the garden; he climbs the tallest trees; for a minute he lets himself be seen, gleaming like a fiery rose; for a minute, never, he comes running; he comes back into the house; once again, a new, illustrious character is floating through the air in the room.

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Marosa di Giorgio (1932–2014) was an acclaimed Uruguayan poet and fiction writer. Considered one of Latin America’s most unusual writers, her work draws on childhood memories to create a landscape that is both beautiful and terrifying.

Jeannine Marie Pitas is a Toronto-based poet and translator. In 2006 she traveled to Uruguay on a Fulbright to translate Marosa di Giorgio’s The History of Violets, and she has been hooked on this astonishing writer’s work ever since.

This excerpt from “The War of the Orchards” was originally published in John le Carré (TLR, Winter 2015).

Excerpted from The War of the Orchards by Marosa di Giorgio and translated by Jeannine Marie Pitas, new translations forthcoming from Ugly Ducking Presse in 2015.