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.
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.