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Pura López-Colombé

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
     Troubles my sight

In Memorium Victoria


“When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight”

Translated from the Spanish by Jason Stumpf


Arrow that pierces,

organ that throbs

in the most vast sight

that protects intimate treasures:

rhododendrons, magnolias, irises,

azaleas, hortenses,

tree tops of pine and plum,

dispersed in the deep scent

of fortune




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In Memorium Victoria

Translated from the Spanish by Jason Stumpf


                                   “…the motions of the winds

                                   Embodied in the mystery of words”

                                                             William Wordsworth


Certain places, certain people, certain music,

seeds that grew that marvelous plant,

infantile, inner, sublime, travel with me,

like the moon, on unforgettable voyages,

almost a flood, that left behind

willows, mountains, grazing cattle, stars,

everything a ruffle of the mountain skirts

could reduce to dust. We are dust.


The mother of my abandoned mother, fallen in neglect of me,

in that corner of the room in a house all my own.

Sitting in a formless armchair, a sofa,

spread out, always with a cigarette

between the thumb, deformed from birth

and the index, deformed by arthritis.


Her monstrous eyes,

their sadness magnified by the lenses

whose immense depth was the depth of a life,

orphaned, blind to beauty and kindness,

the vision of the whole world threadbare.

Her fatigue, her pain, a live and bubbling

reminder of the failure, the frustration,

the woman extinct but there.

Praying or in silence. Praying more.

Sometimes incandescent was the flame

at the heart of that strange heart.

She sang then: Voice of my guitar

waking up the morning, a skillfully prancing

the threads of destiny in a knot in my throat

that she did not manage to untie with her useless

They sleep in my garden

the nardos and the lilies…


Victoria, as queen, you sang victory!

What made your colorless eyes

cast off such cataracts

in thick spurts, like saliva or secretion of a beast

that is not worth the trouble, that does not become crystallized.

How must I have offended you—what reflection of misery

could I put in front of you! All, surely,

with innocence in hand.


Why do you cry, old woman, why.

Touch my soul. Sing it.

I do not want them to know my pain,

because if they see me crying, they will die.


Before me, the broken bow of the bitter love,

hearts so distant,

dead hours that not even one’s own storm

that believing itself angelic,

can erase.

Unburied corpses, dust,

in the live, mysterious


of words.




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Translated from the Spanish by Jason Stumpf


That all wild buds

will disappear

in time.




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Translated from the Spanish by Jason Stumpf




Native eath.

Your name crumbles

between tongue

and palate,

sprinkling fire

on my silence.





This black, softened,


has crushed the leaves

that lovingly covered it

with color, shades of cobalt,

gold, and transparency.

Quickly, it will throw out

the useless,

my world,

its fascination.


To such arms, such shelter,

we will want to return eternally:


“When at night I wait for her to come,

It seems as if life is hanging by a thread.

What are such honors, what is youth, what liberty,

Compared to the dear guest, a rustic flute in hand?


And now she enters. Pushing her veil to one side,

She watches me intently.

I question her: ‘Was it you who dictated to Dante,

The verses of the Inferno?’ And she answered: ‘Yes, it was me.’”




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Pura López-Colomé was born in Mexico City in 1952. She is the author of six collections of poems in Spanish. No Shelter, a selection of her poems translated into English by Forrest Gander, was published by Graywolf Press in 2002. A literary critic and translator as well as a poet, she has rendered into Spanish works by H.D., Gertrude Stein, Samuel Beckett, and Robert Hass.


English language translation copyright ©2006 by Jason Stumpf


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