Five Poems from Los Versos del Capitan,

Translated by Jim Cryer

Your Feet

when I can't look at your face
I look at your feet:

your bowed and bony feet,
your little hard feet.

I know they hold you up,
that your soft burden
soars over them:

your waist and your breasts,
twin purples
of your nipples,
the cage your eyes
recently flew from,
your big fruit of a mouth,
your red locks,
my little watchtower.

but I love your feet
because they walked
on the land, and on
the winds, and on the water
until they met me.

Your Hands

when your hands reach out,
love, towards mine
what do they carry, flying so?
why stop
at my mouth suddenly,
how do I know them,
as if in some before
I had touched them,
as if before their being
they had ranged over
my brow, my waist?

their softness came
flying across time,
across the sea, the mists,
across springtime,
and when you placed
your hands on my chest
I knew them: wings
of a golden dove
I knew them: clay
and the color of wheat.

years of my life
I've traveled in search of them:
climbed staircases,
cruised highways,
carried by trains,
shipped the waters,
and in the skin of grapes
it seemed I could touch you;
wood abruptly
brought me your feel;
an almond announced to me
your secret softness . . .
until your hands closed
on my chest
like two wings, and there
completed the journey.


these eyes shot off
after a blackgirl passing by.

she of black nacre,
she of black purple grapes,
and I was whipped bloody
by her fiery braid.

following them all
I go

passed by a girl, pale blond
as a golden plant,
rocking her assets.
my mouth dropped
like a wave
breaking against her breast
in sanguine lightning

following them all
I go

but to you, without stirring,
without seeing you, so distant,
go my blood and my kisses,
my blackgirl and blonde,
tall one, small one,
broad and thin,
my ugly one, my lovely one,
made all of gold
all of silver,
made all of wheat,
all of the land,
made all of water
from the waves of the sea,
made for my arms,
made for my kisses,
made for my soul.

You Would Come

you haven't made me suffer
except to wait
in those jungled hours,
snake filled,
my soul slides down to choke me.
then, you would come walking along
come naked, scratched up,
arrive bloody at my bed,
my sweetheart,
all the night we walk together
in sleep
until we wake when
you would be whole, new,
as if that grave dreamwind
would give again
fire to your hair
as if in wheat and silver immersed
your body would be left luminous.

I did not suffer,
only waited.
you had to transform your heart
and perception
after you touched the depths
of my heart's sea I yielded to you.
you had to leave this water
pure as a droplet, exalted
by some nocturnal wave.
my sweetheart, you had
to die and be born, I to wait.
I did not suffer seeking you,
I knew you would come,
a woman new with what I adore,
come from that which I did not,
with your same eyes, hands, mouth,
but with a different heart
dawning by my side,
as if you had always been there
to follow me forever.

Not Fire Alone

ah, I recall
ah, your eyes shut
as if filled inside with black light,
your whole body like an open hand,
a white cluster of moonstuff,
and the ecstasy,
when a thunderbolt kills us,
when a dagger wounds us in our roots,
and a glint from your tresses breaks over us,
we journey, again,
returning to life
as if from the ocean come forth
from a shipwreck
returned, wounded
from its rocks and the red seaweed.

there are other memories,
not these fire-setting flowers alone,
little buds
appearing suddenly
when I pass on the train
or in the streets:

I see you,
washing my handkerchiefs,
hanging my worn socks
in the window,
your figure, on which all,
all such blazing pleasure
fell, and you not destroyed,
little woman,
out of each day,
again, to be human,
plainly human,
fiercely poor,
as you must, to be
not the brief rose
that love's ashes unmake,
but life's all,
all of life, with its soap and needles,
with the smell I love,
from the kitchen perhaps we will not have,
your hand on the fried potatoes,
your mouth singing in the winter
as the roast gets done:
this would be for me a residency
of joy on this earth.

ah, my life,
it is not fire alone, burning between us,
but all of life,
a simple story,
simply love
of a woman and a man
like everyone's.