Palabras Errantes Latin American Literature in Translation

Palabras Errantes
Lesbian Sestina

By Ana Nuño. Translated by Lawrence Schimel.


Tactical, but allowing for disorder.

Words made to the measure

of rejection, the body, all of their bodies,

dressed for day even at night,

always ready but as if on the margin:

superior, unnoticed, alone.


The precise image, by itself, alone,

raises a polemic about the disorder

of the mind to affix the margin

in its place: the exact measure

that bodies reveal at night,

the nocturnal rotation of bodies.


From one to another, between bodies

flows an old fear of waking alone,

of falling into the well that at night

was a mouth: now stones, all disordered

after the collapse, carefully measured

defeat, contained within its margin.


If they would just accept the margin

calmly: stretched out, their bodies

very close to the edge, with no other measure

than the beating of the dark water, and alone,

flesh and bones sated by disorder,

they would meet the edge of the night.


The hours drop away from the night

like beads from a broken necklace: the margin

between caress and wound, the disorder

of the senses are, like the bodies,

une vue de l’esprit. What matters is to, alone,

conceive and invent another measure


and another edge in the unmeasured

chaste night: the heart of the night

empty at last of archetypes, alone

the stars, alone you and I in the margin,

narrow and slippery, of our bodies,

tactically giving in to disorder.


Order, disorder recites the measure

of other bodies. The bodies, in the night,

are this caress: at the margin, all alone.

B0008687 Arum Lily Credit: Arthur Meehan. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org The arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) grows natively in South Africa. Traditionally, the leaves and rhizomes were used as a poultice (dressing) and to treat ailments such as headaches. Z. aethiopica is somewhat toxic if ingested while contact with the sap to skin or eyes can cause irritation. Z. aethiopica may also play a role in cleaning waste water and inhibiting growth of algae. Photograph Published: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/page/Prices.html

Arum Lily. Credit: Arthur Meehan. Wellcome Images


Sextina lésbica[1]


Tácticas, pero admitiendo el desorden.

Las palabras hechas a la medida

del rechazo, el cuerpo, todos sus cuerpos,

vestidos de día incluso de noche,

siempre dispuestas pero como al margen:

soberbias, desapercibidas, solas.


La imagen precisa, a secas, a solas,

se alza polémica sobre el desorden

de la mente para fijar el margen

en su ámbito: la exacta medida

que los cuerpos publican en la noche,

la nocturna rotación de los cuerpos.


De uno a otro circula entre los cuerpos

un miedo antiguo a despertar a solas,

a caer en el pozo que de noche

fue boca: ahora piedras en desorden

tras el derrumbe, derrota medida

con esmero, contenida en su margen.


Si al menos reconocieran el margen

serenamente: tendidos los cuerpos

muy cerca del brocal, sin más medida

que el latido del agua oscura, y solas,

saciados piel y huesos de desorden,

conocieran el canto de la noche.


Las horas se desprenden de la noche

como cuentas de un collar roto: el margen

entre caricia y herida, el desorden

de los sentidos son, como los cuerpos,

une vue de l’esprit. Lo que importa es, a solas,

concebir, inventar otra medida


y otro canto en la noche desmedida

y púdica: el corazón de la noche

vacío por fin de arquetipos, solas

las estrellas, solas tú y yo en el margen

estrecho y resbaloso de los cuerpos,

tácticas y entregadas al desorden.


Orden, desorden reza la medida

de otros cuerpos. Los cuerpos, en la noche,

son esta caricia: al margen, a solas.



[1] Originalmente editada en Ana Nuño, Sextinario (Random House Mondadori-Debolsillo, Col. Poesía, 78, 2002), esta sextina y otras dos de la misma fuente figuran en la antología Sextinas. Pasado y presente de una forma poética (Chus Arellano, Jesús Munárriz y Sofía Rhei, eds.), editada en marzo de 2011 por Hiperión (Col. Poesía, 621).


Ana Nuño (Caracas, 1957) is a writer and editor. She has published various poetry collections (*Las voces encontradas*, *Sextinario*) and essays (*Lezama Lima*), alongside other work. Her poetry has been translated into French, Italian, Portuguesa and English. During the last twenty years she has regularly published in different media in Spain, Mexico and Venezuela.

Lawrence Schimel (New York, 1971) lives in Madrid, Spain where he writes in both Spanish and English. He has published over 100 books as author or anthologist, including: *Una barba para dos* (Dos Bigotes), *Desayuno en la cama* (Egales), *Deleted Names* (A Midsummer Night’s Press), *¡Vamos a ver a Papá!* (Ekaré), and *Just Like Them/Igual que ellos* (Ediciones del Viento). Recent titles he has translated include: graphic novel *EuroNightmare* by Aleix Saló (Penguin Random House), sci-fi novella *Memory* by Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría (Upper Rubber Boot), and poetry collections *Titanic” by Mario Heredia (Mantis) and *Dissection* by Care Santos (A Midsummer Night’s Press). He tweets in English at @lawrenceschimel and in Spanish at @1barbax2



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