Ida Vitale

English versions by Tanya Huntington


For years, to have enjoyed both the error
and its mending,
to have been able to speak and walk freely,
and existed without mutilation,
and entered churches, or not,
and read, heard music that is dear to me,
to have been at night a being, as in the light of day.
Not to have been married in a transaction
measured by goats,
not to have endured being governed by relatives,
or legal lapidation.
Never to have to march again
or ever condone words
that sow filaments of iron
in the bloodstream.
To discover on your own
another being, unforeseen
over the bridge of your gaze.
To be human and a woman, no more, no less.



The poem was there, in mid-air,
tenuous, imprecise.
Also imprecise
was the arrival of the nocturnal moth,
neither beautiful nor ominous,
lost among the folding paper screens.
The unraveled, flimsy ribbon of words,
dispelled with her.
Will either of them ever return?
Perhaps sometime during the night,
when I no longer want to write
anything more ominous
than a moth hiding
to avoid the light,
as all Joys do.


Slow Obstacles

If this evening’s poem
were mineral, a stone
falling towards a magnet
within a haven so very deep;

if it were a fruit required
to assuage someone’s hunger,
and right on time, both hunger
and poem would ripen;

if it were the bird that lives by its wing,
if it were the wing that sustains the bird,
if nearby, there were a sea
and the cry of gulls at twilight
were to strike the awaited hour;

if the ferns of today
—not the sort stored by time as fossils—
could be kept green by my word;
if everything were natural and kind…

And yet, these uncertain itineraries
are dispersed with no clear meaning.
We have become nomads
with no splendors to our crossing,
aimless inside the poem.


Ida Vitale is a prolific writer from Montevideo. Born in 1923, she played an important role in the Uruguayan art movement known as the Generation of ’45. Vitale fled to Mexico City  in 1973 for political asylum after a military junta took power in Uruguay. She currently resides in Austin, TX. Her many awards include the Premio Internacional de Poesía García Lorca, Premio de Reina Sofía de Poesía Iberoamericana and most recently, the Premio FIL de Lenguas Romances.

Copy Right: Literal Publishing

Posted: October 2, 2018 at 9:36 pm

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