The Mirror

Translated from Spanish by Jesse Lee Kercheval

Leave leave me to do it she says

and when she leans down

when she goes to drown her face gently

in the coarse hair

in the dark marbled tangle

over skin so very pale

she sees the mirror which is to say she sees in the mirror

a blonde head-no, golden

hair softly gathered

in a languid bun as if

it were the face the neck the head

of some delicate ballerina.

The mirror, Look, the mirror says

and kneeling finally she sank her face

and left it to him to see the golden

head sinking in the black hair

and her neck bending

so harmoniously so beautifully

let him see absorbed in love

this piece of his love living

enclosed in an oval of gold.

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Idea Vilariño (1920–2009), author of twelve books of poetry, is an essential figure in Latin American poetry. Vilariño and the Uruguayan novelist Juan Carlos Onetti carried on a love affair that is one of the most famous in South American literature. The poems in this issue are from Poemas de amor, her best known book, which is dedicated to Onetti.

Jesse Lee Kercheval is the author of fourteen books of fiction, memoir, and poetry including the poetry collections Cinema Muto and Dog Angel. Her translations include Invisible Bridge/ El puente invisible: Selected Poems of Circe Maia and Fable of an Inconsolable Man by Javier Etchevarren. She is also the editor of the anthologies América invertida: An Anthology of Emerging Uruguayan Poets and Earth, Water and Sky: A Bilingual Anthology of Environmental Poetry.