Selena Millares

Translated from the Spanish by Ana Rodriguez Gallego

The Tower

vincenzo sulis: hero, traitor,
locked in the tower for twenty years
-over a lie, a slander-
your voice still drifts through the alleys:
runs with the wind, violently howling,
and crying out in the night for your fate,
your roar joins the waves buffeting your tower,
repeating your tears

vincenzo, the traitor, the hero, who cares:
how ironic your misfortune
how ridiculous the merciless destiny...
motherless, godless, and futureless,
saltpeter flowers embroider your shroud
to protect your broken heart
                    and still you ask yourself:
why, for what, until when,
if only it was freedom

you were adventurous, a smuggler, a tribune:
freedom was your sun and your star
and everyone adored you
until the sting of envy
arrived and sealed you in stone
an island within an island, you alone against the sky:
but your guards don’t realize your island is a ship,
and the belly you were born from,
the watchtower where you see passing
the death of each of your enemies
as the sibyl recites to you their names

you only had a window, but you had so much:
infinite seagulls against the blue sky,
clouds with their deep-sea fish,
the vespertine requiem,
and the sea plowing your misery
taking the daily sun, that red orange
made of blood and honey
that wounds your memory of melancholy

vincenzo sulis, in the prime of life
life stolen and moreover
and now only the wind, its ancient voice
and the dream of freedom
calls at your window

The Stranded Mermaid

eight towers watch over you
so that the sea, lovesick, won’t take you
yet he returns incessantly to kiss your stone feet
and he rocks you and sings ancient songs
and he combs your hair intoxicated with seaweeds

alghero, lovely prisoner,
through your dark veins the wind rambles
and recounts its thousand stories in the dead of night:
like a nursemaid it covers you with its sheet
for you to dream, and not notice
the rain clinging to your sleepless lights
as he begs you to use for your pillow his whisper of foam

alghero, stranded mermaid
time and saltpeter erase you little by little
but still you rise among your walls:
you shimmer in your castle, maddalenetta,
you flutter in the square of mercy
and you climb the bell tower of santa maria
to dance with the mistral and the tramontana;
wandering the dome of san michele
to repeat yourself in its thousand-color mirrors
and you descend to inflame you
to call your forbidden lover
and gave him the salt of your tears

alghero, lonely girl,
the rain turns you to silver and the sea makes you a song:
the sea in love with your silence


the air is cold
it captures the warm taste
of a paused

and the serpents agitate the air
sibilant, they warn you
about the rounds of fear:
its threat
of blood and bile
of ash
on that clutter of night
haunting jungle

the air is cold
you wanted the forbidden sword
that dwells now in your chest
cloud of dust
of shattered hearts

Selena Millares was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain) in 1963. She is the author of five books of poetry, including Páginas de arena (Oregon, 2003), Cuadernos de Sassari (Messina, 2013), and Sueños del goliardo: Poemas pintados 2004-2013 (Madrid, 2013). She has also published poems in collective works, as well as novels, short stories and books of theory. Millares is a philologist specialized in Neruda and the avant-garde in Latin America. Since 1996 she has been an associate professor at the Autonomous University of Madrid, the city where she lives. In 2017 she was named a member of the Chilean Language Academy, a cultural institution that ensures the stability of Spanish and minority Chilean languages.

Ana Rodriguez Gallego holds a degree in Hispanic Studies from the Autonomous University of Madrid. She received an MA in Hispanic Literature from the University of Connecticut and now she is pursuing her MA in Hispanic Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she specializes in bilingualism and language processing. She has worked as a translator for refugee families and in 2020 she received the LCL Award in Literary Translation from the University of Connecticut, sponsored by World Poetry Books.

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