translated from the Spanish by William George Williams
Lord, I ask a garden in a quiet spot
where there may be a brook with a good flow,
an humble little house covered with bell-flowers,
and a wife and a son who shall resemble Thee.
I should wish to live many years, free from hates,
and make my verses, as the rivers
that moisten the earth, fresh and pure.
Lord, give me a path with trees and birds.
I wish that you would never take my mother,
for I should wish to tend to her as a child
and put her to sleep with kisses, when somewhat old
she may need the sun.
I wish to sleep well, to have a few books,
an affectionate dog that will spring upon my knees,
a flock of goats, all things rustic,
and to live off the soil tilled by my own hand.
To go into the field and flourish with it;
to seat myself at evening under the rustic eaves,
to drink in the fresh mountain perfumed air
and speak to my little one of humble things.
At night to relate him some simple tale,
teach him to laugh with the laughter of water
and put him to sleep thinking that he may later on
keep that freshness of the moist grass.
And afterward, the next day, rise with dawn
admiring life, bathe in the brook,
milk my goats in the happiness of the garden
and add a strophe to the poem of the world.
Señor, yo pido un huerto
Señor, yo pido un huerto en un rincón tranquilo
donde haya una quebrada con aguas abundantes
una casita humilde cubierta de campánulas,
y una mujer y un hijo que sean como Vos.
Yo quisiera vivir muchos años, sin odios,
y hacer como los ríos que humedecen la tierra
mis versos y mis actos frescos y de puros.
Señor, dadme un sendero con árboles y pájaros.
Yo deseo que nunca os llevéis a mi madre,
porque a mi me gustara cuidarla cual a un niño
y dormirla con besos, cuando ya viejecita
necesite del sol.
Quiero tener buen sueño, algunos pocos libros
un perro cariñoso que me salte a las piernas,
un rebaño de cabras, toda cosa silvestre,
y vivir de la tierra labrada por mis manos.
Salir a la campiña, y florecer en ella;
sentarme por la tarde, bajo el rústico alero,
a beber aire fresco y olorosa a montaña,
y hablarle a mi pequeño de las cosas humildes
Por la noche contarle algún cuento sencillo,
enseñarle a reír con la risa del agua
y dormirle pensando en que pueda, a la tarde,
guardar esa frescura de la hierba embebida;
y luego, al otro día, levantarme a la aurora
admirando la vida, bañarme en la quebrada,
ordeñar a mis cabras en la dicha del huerto,
y agregar una estrofa al poema del mundo.
From Hispanic Anthology: Poems Translated From the Spanish by English and North American Poets (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1920), edited by Thomas Walsh. Translated from the Spanish by William G. Williams. This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on October 8, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m a modest girl, couldn’t even strip off
at one of those nudie hot springs out west,
the whole place a flotsam
of much-nursed areolas and buoyant
scrotums while I sat prim
as Gidget, legs crossed and awkwardly
smiling on the shore. It’s just that the snail
is on to something—neither boy nor girl
but both, the critter is nearly mythic—a true
hermaphrodite that all alone
will go to its own kind of cyrobank and baste
itself, make a new batch of not-so-bouncies
in thin, flea-sized shells. But no, that’s not
me. That seems lonely. Better, with another
intersex other it will take
aim, flex back its bow, shoot a dart,
then wait to be impaled
in return. I couldn’t make this shit up
if I tried—this is no metaphor
but scientific fact—a telum amoris—literally,
a weapon of love—a James-Bond-worthy arrow
equipped with four blades spiked
with all the dirty talk a snail could want.
Cupid’s got nothing on this
mollusk congress, and because you know
how snails go, the foreplay is slow—
slow, slow, slow—my kind of sex—
going on and on until the hussy
who first received that dart has enough
then rises to fire back. Now, knowing this,
I can say I didn’t come out
all those years ago, whatever that means. No,
when I finally made a home
for my body in the bed of another
woman, I simply became
a land snail. Tired of being
a leaking receptacle for a man’s desire,
I needed to feel
an equal’s push against my own,
a willingness to be wounded and to
wound, receiving and giving at the same
time. Plainly said, I needed the kind of love
that finally let me take
my time; I needed to fire
an arrow of my damn own.
From To Those Who Were Our First Gods (Rattle, 2018) by Nickole Brown. Used with permission of the author.