Hormonal Snares

by Astrid Cabral.
Translated by Alexis Levitin.

You turn the corner
and no lascivious gaze
envelops you from breast to thigh.
On the peopled street no one
to arouse your instincts
and take an x-ray of your body.
You have gone from woman to person.
The mirror never lies.
For your part, you feel
disengaged from all entanglements
safe from passion and the jeopardy
of those hormonal snares.
But liberation does not bring exhilaration.
You are far still from an angel.


by Astrid Cabral.
Translated by Alexis Levitin.

No sooner do you touch the trophy
than the brightness dims.
Seize a star
and you will find between your fingers
a skeleton of battered tin.
Take the beloved from the castle
both crown and scepter will be lost.
Better leave the trophy
on the shelves of Olympus.
Let the star stay in its galaxy.
And let the loved one dwell among the clouds.
Familiarity defiles
and corrupts all things.
With the divine, distance
plays its part. Only the impossible
partakes of the celestial breath.

Ancient Scenario

by Astrid Cabral.
Translated by Alexis Levitin.

The outizeiro tree beside the wall
has only grown a bit.
There is more rust on the gate
and the house has gathered moss
along with streaks carved
by the plowshare of the rains.
In fact, nothing has changed.
But where are the tender words
(I thought eternal)
the caresses still timid
the ecstasy of discovery?
It is as if everything has
gone down the drain
and what we lived was nothing
but a dream or imagining.
You went away and now come back
like an afflicted soul,
one of those that prowled
the terrors of my childhood.
And so I say, get away from me, nostalgia,
leave no trace of me,
that bud blossoming beneath caresses.
Beside that wall, I now discover:
the heart is not mere muscle.
More than anything, it is a sepulcher.

Death By Water

by Astrid Cabral.
Translated by Alexis Levitin.

The first time
no one saw the danger.
Even her mother smiled thinking
how dramatic that child is
and saw her once again beneath an acacia tree
swooning in pretended death.
How lucky that, responding to her cries,
an angel suddenly appeared among the leafy branches
to snatch her from the river’s navel.

The second time
the wall of the sea came crashing down
a shroud upon a mermaid’s silhouette.
But it was a time of courtly love and valorous
gestures. Without delay
two chivalric gentlemen rose from the sand
and astride the backs of waves
conquered the marine monster
in service to the damsel fair.

The third and last time
upon a breast shaken with sobs
eyes unleashed a flood.
It was her soul that died departing
with her son’s dark skiff headed back to clay.
This time there was no escape from foundering.
When her body floated up from
the abyss, it was a drifting corpse,
soul severed by the razor-edge of pain.

The sphinx followed the footsteps of the wanderer

by Carmen Váscones.
Translated by Alexis Levitin.

The sphinx followed the footsteps of the wanderer
she conceived an enigma
she opened her palate with a slash
she circled the desert with her cries
engendered a tongue for someone absent
a strange displeasure touched her origins
she began to hear the echo of the craggy spring
separated from her name she asked herself who am I
she demolished indifference
for the first time a sob accompanied her gaze
the mirror never wished to be her confidant
the wind carried her voice towards exile
her appropriation of being announced what is hidden
the ghost of the act brought the path to light.
They saw themselves in the babbling of the spring
sonorous breath of a gesture like an accent
in the descent to the perverse she recognized the man
she fled into his arms
she bit into pleasure
he encircled her with tenderness.

Night whirls amongst flesh on flesh
the storm her music
they excavate her secret
their bodies an exodus.
Between the two a mortal intimacy.

Enigma anticipates its existence and its deciphering

by Carmen Váscones.
Translated by Alexis Levitin.

Enigma anticipates its existence and its deciphering
it comes before the sphinx itself and the solver of the riddle
it rests its feet in the orifice of illusion
while it professes from obscurity
the only chance for mortals
is to blunder and return.
It tells me of my future:
desire will be the ghost of your voice
your word your soul
where tragedy will not be your destiny.
I speak to my ghost
from its mouth and in my body
at the same time
we declare the place of evanescence
It attends me and I attend it
it touches me and I touch it
it takes on flesh
and at its touch I fade away.