In Search of the Lost Body
There are days when we awake with one less armwhen a foot is as remote as if it belonged to an ancestor or as if it were about to be born in another bodywhen we turn our back on our backswhen our eyelids wonder if they are eyelids for opening or closingthen we stalk the punctual throb with which the blood repeats a namein the bend of an arterycorner with the heartbefore crossing that dangerous arenathat quagmire of names and dreamsor to risk it armed with the cry with which that name is pronouncedand the arena, taken foreverin a love-coupto travel the forgotten provincesrecover all the possible ways a body has to be a bodyso elbows and knees might hearand the smile at the nape of the neck might appearand the eyes of the heels open En Busca del Cuerpo PerdidoHay días en que amanecemos con un brazo de menosen que un pie es tan remoto como si perteneciera a un antepasado o como si estuviera por nacer en otro cuerpoen que damos la espalda a nuestra espaldaen que los párpados se preguntan si son párpados de abrirse o de cerrarseentonces acechamos el latido en punto con que repite la sangre un nombreen el recodo de una arteriaesquina con el corazónantes de atravesar esa plaza de peligroese tembladeral de los nombres y los sueñoso para atravesarla armado del grito con que ese nombre se pronunciay tomada la plaza para siempreen un golpe de estado amorosorecorrer las provincias olvidadasrecuperar las maneras límites que tiene un cuerpo de ser cuerpopara que los codos y las rodillas oigany se dibuje la sonrisa de la nucay se abran los ojos de los talones
English Translation Copyright © 2021 by Terry Ehret, John Johnson, and Nancy J. Morales.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Ulalume González de León was born in 1928 in Montevideo, Uruguay, the daughter of two poets, Roberto Ibañez and Sara de Ibañez. She studied literature and philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the University of Mexico. While living in Mexico in 1948, Ulalume became a naturalized Mexican citizen. She married painter and architect Teodoro González de León, and together they had three children. She published essays, stories, poems, and worked with Mexican poet and Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz as an editor of two literary journals, Plural and Vuelta. She also translated the work of H.D., Elizabeth Bishop, Ted Hughes, Lewis Carroll, and e.e. cummings.
In the 1970s in Latin America, González de León was part of a generation of women writers challenging the traditional identities of women, marriage, and relationships. Her poetry earned her many awards, including the Xavier Villaurrutia Prize, the Flower of Laura Poetry Prize, and the Alfonso X Prize. Ulalume González de León died in 2009 of respiratory failure and complications of Alzheimer’s.
Terry Ehret, one of the founders of Sixteen Rivers Press, has published four collections of poetry, most recently Night Sky Journey from Kelly’s Cove Press. Her literary awards include the National Poetry Series, the California Book Award, the Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize, a nomination for the Northern California Book Reviewer’s Award, and five Pushcart Prize nominations. From 2004–2006, she served as the poet laureate of Sonoma County where she lives and teaches writing.
John Johnson’s poetry has appeared in many print and online journals, including Boxcar Poetry Review, Clade Song, Triggerfish Critical Review, and Web Conjunctions. He is a long-time student of the Spanish language and has studied letter-press printing with Iota Press of Sebastopol, producing chapbooks and bilingual broadsides.
Nancy J. Morales, a first-generation American of Puerto Rican parents, earned her bachelor’s degree from Rutgers College, a master’s in teaching English as a Second Language from Adelphi University, and a doctorate in education from Teachers College at Columbia University. She has taught at Dominican University, College of Marin, Sonoma State University, and other schools, from elementary to graduate levels. Currently she is a board member for the Northern California Chapter of the Fulbright Alumni Association and teaches Spanish to private clients. She lives in Napa County with her husband and son.
Exchanges is an online journal of literary translation published biannually. Founded in 1989 by poet and translator Daniel Weissbort, Exchanges has published the work of award-winning writers and translators across the country and the globe, including Deborah Smith, Jennifer Croft, Jeremy Tiang, Aron Aji, Yvette Siegert, Aviya Kushner, Ottilie Mulzet, Urayoán Noel, Craig Santos Perez, Lawrence Venuti, and many others.
Spring 2021 cover artwork by Sufyan Jalal, from Withering.