Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Drinking by Gabriela Mistral


I remember people’s gestures,
They were gestures of giving me water.
In the Valley of Rio Blanco
Where the Aconcagua rises,
I went to drink, I leapt to drink
In the whip of a waterfall
That fell in a stiff mane
And broke white and rigid.
I glued my mouth to the foaming
And the blessed water burnt me,
And for three days my mouth was bleeding
From that drink of the Aconcagua.
In the country of Mitla,
A day of cicadas, of sun and of walking,
I bent to a pool and an Indian came
To hold me over the water.
And my head, like a fruit
Was between the palms of his hands.
I drank and what I was drinking
Was my face and his face together
And in a flash I knew
That my race was the flesh of Mitla.
On the Island of Puerto Rico
At the time of the blue-filled siesta,
My body at rest, the waves in a frenzy,
And the palms like a hundred mothers,
A little girl gracefully opened
A cocoanut close to my mouth
And I drank as a daughter,
Her mother’s milk, milk of the palmtrees.
And I have drunk no sweeter
With the soul nor with the body.
In the house of my childhood,
My mother brought me water.
Between one drink and another,
I looked at her over the jar.
My head I raised higher and higher
The jar sank lower and lower.
And still I keep the valley
I keep my thirst and her look.
This shall be eternity
For we are still as we were.
 I remember people’s gestures,
They were gestures of giving me water.
(translated by H.R. Hays)

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