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a Lydia Cabrera y a su negrita

So I took her to the river
thinking she was virgin,
but it seems she had a husband.
It was the night of Saint Iago,
and it almost was a duty.
The lamps went out,
the crickets lit up.
By the last street corners
I touched her sleeping breasts,
and they suddenly had opened
like the hyacinth petals.
The starch
of her slip crackled
in my ears like silk fragments
ripped apart by ten daggers.
The tree crowns
free of silver light are larger,
and a horizon, of dogs, howls
far away from the river.

Past the hawthorns,
the reeds, and the brambles,
below her dome of hair
I made a hollow in the sand.
I took off my tie.
She took of a garment.
I my belt with my revolver.
She four bodices.
Creamy tuberoses
or shells are not as smooth as
her skin was, or, in the moonlight,
crystals shining brilliantly.

Her thighs slipped from me
like fish that are startled,
one half full of fire,
one half full of coldness.
That night I galloped
on the best of roadways,
on a mare of nacre,
without stirrups, without bridle.
As a man I cannot tell you
the things she said to me.
The light of understanding
has made me most discreet.
Smeared with sand and kisses,
I took her from the river.
The blades of the lilies
were fighting with the air.

I behaved as what I am,
as a true gypsy.
I gave her a sewing basket,
big, with straw-coloured satin.
I did not want to love her,
for though she had a husband,
she said she was a virgin
when I took her to the river.


Federico García Lorca, 1928
Translation by A. S. Kline

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