The modern fountain in Fuente Vaqueros, Lorca's birthplace, commemorating those killed in the Spanish Civil War, with a pensive Lorca presiding on top
Here are selections from two Spanish poets who are women—and are from different generations—writing today.
Juana Castro was born in Villanueva de Córdoba in 1945. She has published a dozen books of poetry. Columnist, literary critic, translator, and a correspondent for the Academy of Science, Fine Arts & Letters of Córdoba. Here are two poems that I translated from her collection Los Cuerpos Oscuros (Dark Bodies), winner of the XXI Premio Jaén de Poesía (2005). While Castro has her own poetic vision, it seems to me you can still feel she is writing under Lorca’s spell.
If the fork in the distance trembles
and if the apricot of August is a fable.
And if already in the two metros the seat prevails over me
and my body draws me to a curved window.
If my mouth gets inside the mirror.
If the toothbrush accumulates frontiers
of salt and incites us.
If the table expands, and the door
and the faucet go sideways.
If you are that one, and if I observe you rising up
like a butterfly.
and if I delay, because the border spins.
If the word “moon” is transformed into “green” and “face.”
If my leg is sad
and I follow trembling.
If once more I am a child,
and in this labyrinth of apples
I walk alone and lose my way.
If the forest of the room
has a radiance of signs.
That of the living stone
and the purple plum
the color of rain.
That of olive girders.
That of thirteen rooms
smoky with flour
expanding themselves funereal
through the slow shoulders of the dead.
That of the golden pear tree and the thorns
of the late irrigation ditches with sparrow plumes.
That of the kiss and the needle/spire and East Wind.
That which burned in my saliva.
When evening comes the labyrinth begins.
From so many walls and houses
that fill my absence and my shoes,
not even a crumb.
Yet again I’m surprised by evening shadows
searching like a dog the house of my life
—my fevered life,
my fevered forgetfulness: the stone
of that dream.
Vanesa Pérez-Sauquillo was born in Madrid in 1978. She has published four prize-winning volumes of poetry and has co-translated an anthology of poems by Dylan Thomas. The excerpts below are taken from her book, Bajo la Lluvia Equivocada (2006), which won the IX Prize for Young Artists in Poetry from Madrid. From the title, “Under the Wrong Rain,” a fragment of the Dylan Thomas phrase that also serves as epigraph for the collection, “Too late under the wrong rain,” one can tell Thomas is one of her chief influences. Less the heir of Lorca than the other poets I have translated, she really doesn't sound like Dylan Thomas to me at all. She also mentions Paul Celan in a later section of this book-length sequence, so her influences are certainly wide-ranging and international.
Under the Wrong Rain
[excerpts from the untitled First Part]
I’m calling to you while you hear
the brilliant scream of the vanquished.
Perhaps you’re not listening to me,
pulp of blinking,
Nothing is left but for me to follow calling you
with the cry of all that boils,
he who makes a branch out of words,
who bears fruit
from my solitude, my root,
thread in the windy field
where he still
hasn’t learned to settle.
You look at the vanquished.
I also know how to scream at you.
Little by little
my heart becomes overcast from shining.
* * *
the curse of predicting you
and being right
about the damage
to my body.
* * *
it’s not true there’s a thread
binding the hearts of lovers
When your plane takes off, even if
in my imagination, what anticipates
and multiplies my pain
is not a sweet sensation of togetherness,
not a silk thread
firm and fragile
that ties us together through space,
that punctured flesh that my hands
pick up from crosses.
A brutal tug in the throat,
a dog before infinity
where you are now
and this is necessary
until the extenuation
only your company doesn’t reveal
silk threads nor desire nor anything
more firm or fragile
than a neck offered up,
a final blow of feelings,
brutal tug of the leash
and a profound and uncomfortable lethargy
like the expectation of something better.
* * *
cursed be my armor if you see yourself in it.
Cursed the veneer of pain.
* * *
I’d like to be exact,
there are days in which I’d like to be,
to be exact
as the clock in the station
I would like to be, like the urgent exactitude
of the traveler
that I’m not, I’d like to be, there are exact
days, in which I would like to be, exact
as the clock in the station,
I’d rather not wait for you, like to be
useless, I’d like to be what I’d like to be
not desperate, to be, certain
looking at that clock
that with exactitude I’d like to be
although it doesn’t know
where you are, where is
my inexcusable reason
and in what lost station
I would like
from whatever village or city I haven’t reached,
the journey already carried out,
your watch will say nine
and you’ll close a book
like someone putting away
* * *
the house sleeps
where already we don’t take shelter.
Love’s fever passed as did the rain.
Torment passed. The house passed.
And if, after everything, my skin
If I believed it was a tree,
even if you would tell me about Judas,
that it was the throbbing gesture,
even if you would tell me about trembling.
* * *
and it was when you placed
my hand in your silence.
But you didn’t frighten me.
And I scratched.
And I discovered touch.
Now that my fingers
are in flower