Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Alfonsina Storni

One of my favorite Latin American poets is Alfonsina Storni. Below is my poem, "Beach Dogs", originally published five years ago this month in The Centrifugal Eye, Volume 4, Issue 3, and reprinted in the journal's Fifth Anniversary Anthology. It also appears in my book, Glad and Sorry Seasons (Biblioasis, 2014) on page 71. My English translation of Storni's poem, "Peso ancestral" is also included in the book on page 61.

BEACH DOGS   (My audio recording is HERE)

In memory of Alfonsina Storni

A man parades his paunch, and you can bet
his wife, though dripping gold, will not get wet.
While brother reads Clarín, a bored boy pokes
a jellyfish. Grandma smirks and smokes.

They seem to sense that I’m not one of them;
I’m much too serious, too plain. ¡Ajém!
I hear them warn each other as I rise
to shift my chair. They weigh my gringa thighs.

What’s this I see? A scrawny mongrel winds
his way along the shore. At last he finds
a spot of shade. The worn-down, worn-out fella
drops down beneath the nearest beach umbrella.

Mine. My neighbours bray in disapproval,
insist upon the vagabond’s removal;
then take a different tack and whisper, Please …
maybe he has the rabies or the fleas!

That well may be. For look—his skin is bruised
and scarred; he’s been forgotten, shunned, abused.
I feed the dog some water and a crust
as the porteños gawk in dark disgust.

Before the Prefectura comes we fly,
he to the sands of Mansa Beach; while I,
cast off, adrift, unmoored from the décor,
will drown at sea and later wash ashore.

(Punta del Este, Uruguay, January 2009)

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