Here comes la Gabriela

Consuelo Rivera Fuentes


As itinerant and crazy

you describe

yourself, Gabriela.

You write on your knees

and on ‘vagabond flesh’.

You walk through life

unhurriedly, lazy,

molding the teeth of bronze, marble and gold

of the Castilian language.

You disappear, Gabriela,

forgetting everything, except your valley and your people.

You unleash tongues, semicolons and commas

and to the Indians give ‘flowers of fire’

with tenderness and haughty fury.

“They believed you were made of marble

but you were flesh alive”1

Far away people can hear the gasp and agony of La Gabriela,

in English, Portuguese, Italian…

and in Mexico

they see her building libraries.

Here comes La Lucila!

holding the hand of girls who don’t wish to be queens or princesses.

She urges them to dance and sing.

In a Lagar (winepress),

always out of place,

Gabriela deliberately un-mothers herself

confusing those who condemn her.

In Europe, the Swedish nobility and their King

reward her…

before they do so in her own motherland!

The Chilean

pseudo- literati

banish Lucila to the land of Mothers,

that place of Children’s Little Feet.

La Gabriela writes love letters

with empty pupils.

She defends herself courageously and

bites down those who discriminate her

frightening thus the ‘tigers of pain’

La Gabriela hides in the exalted cosmos of a red flower

‘Esa roja flor que dan, en la noche de San Juan’

(that red flower they give out on St. John’s eve)

La Lucila is delirious.

She dreams of Vicuña and its mountains,

and in her dream

she realises that the pajita2 stuck in her eyes

deforms her perspective,

so she can make verses, there, where she lives.

Lucila is dying in ‘a country with no name’

sharpening her pencils

to continue writing in a meadow or inside

her closed coffin.

La Gabriela is dying,

writing love rhymes and others,

and in the distant Aurora

she keeps her strength and remains alive in us.

1 Rubén Darío.

2 Gabriela Mistral used to say that everybody has a speck in their eyes, particularly poets, which alters their vision of things, hence the metaphors, similes and poetic language in general. She called this speck ‘una pajita’ and that when we are in our death throes, we shed a last, strange tear that falls very slowly clearing away this ‘pajita’ because on entering Paradise, there is no use for a distortion of reality. Her poem “La Pajita”, is based on this belief.

Leer más poemas de Consuelo Rivera-Fuentes