we, countries gapped in skin,
filled by the sounds of flags
made taut by the gales of contention
we have a thousand names, never knowing
the stories behind them, why we lift our hands so
nor why we raise our voices like we do,
then we realize, we are forever foreigners,
me to you, as you are to me
our time is pleated, peaks, lowered by valleys,
we cannot see one moment for the one we are in.
somewhere we were not clear on where we each long
to be, where we long to be taken
(my desire; to see the celluloid of your thoughts,
to mine some semblance from that emulsion)
the wind-bitten flags wake me
from the margin, knowing our yesterdays cannot
define our tomorrows
might sentences run long, of the sacred from within
each other’s mouths? blood red hearts, red hands,
red lips, red eyes. I cannot promise the red will ever
let us be persistent commas, always on our
way to some place but never away from
the the friction that brings this taste of blood
grow over with a thick love, that we coexist
within a prose like that of liturgy.
It’s Day 18 of NaPoWriMo and the prompt of the day is to write a poem about an urgent journey and an important message. The topic of my poem today is both of these. It’s urgent in that the topic is so woven into the fabric of our society that we can barely distinguish it by sight, yet it rubs our skin raw at every turn. It’s importance is self explanatory.
Rosalía de Castro was an early feminist, poet and novelist from the Galician region of Spain. Though her literary talents were disregarded for most of her life, several decades after her death, de Castro’s poetry became a major influence on Fredrico García Lorca and other Spanish Romantic poets. Today, she is revered in Galicia and is considered a champion of the poor and downtrodden.
De Castro was born 1837 into an well-to-do family. At that time in Spain it was traditional for girls of her social standing to be given over as children to rural peasant families, then reclaimed when they came of age. Through this arrangement, de Castro grew up in the impoverished Galicia countryside and developed a deep love of Galician lore and poetry, as well a life-long empathy for the poor and powerless.
When she was 14, she was reclaimed by her mother and enrolled in a girl’s school in Santiago where she studied music, art and writing. But the Galician countryside was in her blood and she was often homesick. Scholars believe much of the pain and melancholy that permeates her poetry is a result of both the early separation from her mother and her longing to return to Galicia.
In 1856 de Castro moved to Madrid, where she wrote her first collection of poems, La Flor. The book captured the attention of Manuel Murguía, a journalist and editor, who gave the book a glowing review. The two soon married and she bore seven children, two of whom died within the first year of their lives. Married life was marred by financial troubles and grief over the death of their children, but de Castro managed to be fairly prolific, producing five novels and seven volumes of poetry before she died. Read more here.
“A Disgracia” (“Misfortune”)
Fae that is never
Satisfied, who redoubles her fury
At the bloodied sight of the deep wound,
Where does she come from? What does she want?
Why do you indulge her,
Mighty God who gaze on our woes?
Do you not see, Lord, that her force strangles
Faith and love in the spirit who trusts you?
How she hardens the heart that was
Once all softness! How she snuffs out
The light of hope which decanted a tranquil luster
Of existence on the heavenly bodies
Lending new vigor to the weary step
And greater courage to the fearful soul!
Everything wilts where she treads, her sole
Accursed ruins everything for evermore;
Her sticky mire muddles everything.
And what a deep hole she digs around
Whom she badgers!