Here comes la Gabriela
Consuelo Rivera Fuentes
As itinerant and crazy
You write on your knees
and on ‘vagabond flesh’.
You walk through life
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
before they do so in her own motherland!
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.