Where can Guillermina be?

When my sister invited her
and I went out to open the door,
the sun came in, the stars came in,
two tresses of wheat came in
and two inexhaustible eyes.

I was fourteen years old,
brooding, and proud of it,
slim, lithe and frowning,
funereal and formal.
I lived among the spiders,
dank from the forest,
the beetles knew me,
and the three-colored bees.
I slept among partridges,
hidden under the mint.

Then Guillermina entered
with her blue lightning eyes
which swept across my hair
and pinned me like swords
against the wall of winter.
That happened in Temuco,
there in the South, on the frontier.

The years have passed slowly,
pacing like pachiderms,
barking like crazy foxes.
The soiled years have passed,
waxing, worn, funereal,
and I walked from cloud to cloud,
from land to land, from eye to eye,
while the rain on the frontier
fell in its same grey shape.

My heart has travelled
in the same pair of shoes,
and I have digested the thorns.
I had no rest where I was:
where I hit out, I was struck,
where they murdered me I fell;
and I revived, as fresh as ever,
and then and then and then
   and then—
it all takes so long to tell.

I have nothing to add.

I came to live in this world.

Where can Guillermina be?

Translation copyright © 1969, 1970, 1972, 1974 by Alastair Reid.

This Issue

October 3, 1974