Villa Amalia

The crowd advances like so many bills of exchange. Air thick with the smoke of August asphalt. Only a body can recognize a body, even one that is running away. We begin the journey, full and empty, the building eaves leaning to comprehend us. There is nothing that reveals its intent. Almost barefoot, inside herself, the dreamer retraces her steps. Observing. Turning around to see better, and farther in. Going. Going. Going.  


A raft capsizing

in your gut;

a far-off sun,

an empire of thirst.

To Dream You Up with Eyes Full of Messiaen

the body falling asleep inside a rumor of birds

is not this voice is not this tone gathering in the distance


are limits dreams islands we are what blinds us

yet the angles will pass, the stubborn,


ownerless avenues over the curtain of an eye

from a sound in the skin the clumsy transparencies




Meditation after Maya Deren


Not an invocation,
But rather names that return.

                                                                               Alejandra Pizarnik


They’re small, these steps. All is outside.


The house comes and goes

like shipwreck.


I close my eyes. I look. Pain of


a broken key

inside my tongue.


My eyes in the knifeblade

are fading.


The wounded air is dreaming across my body.


Death is a silent gramophone.




Ariadne Forgetting the Sea

Her face she leaned back. From the shore

everything was peace. And scent. Immensities.


Truths conceded to space

swayed gently between the branches.


She breathed the cold air opening

like a paper sun in her lungs.


To know the sea’s light, its corridors.

To leave behind the salt. And go home. 

Villa Amalia

Como letras de cambio, la multitud avanza. La espesura del humo del asfalto en agosto llena el aire. Solo un cuerpo puede reconocer un cuerpo, aunque deserte. Vacíos pero llenos emprendemos el viaje, las cornisas se inclinan para entender. No hay nada que revele su intención. Casi descalza, dentro de sí misma, la que sueña recorre los senderos. Observar. Girarse para ver mejor, más dentro. Andar. Andar. Andar.


Balsa que en el estómago


lejano el sol,

imperio de la sed.

Soñarte con Messiaen en los ojos

el cuerpo que se duerme en el rumor del pájaro

no es esta voz no es este tono lejos se agrupan


límites sueños islas somos lo que nos ciega

pasarán sin embargo los vertices las tercas


avenidas sin dueño sobre el telón del ojo

del sonido en la piel las torpes transparencias




Meditación sobre Maya Deren


No es invocación.
Son nombres que regresan.
                                                                                        Alejandra Pizarnik


Son pequeños los pasos. Todo es afuera.


La casa viene y va

como un naufragio.


Cierro los ojos. Veo. Duele


la llave rota

dentro de la lengua.


Los ojos en el filo del cuchillo

se desvanecen.


El aire herido sueña contra el cuerpo.


La muerte es un gramófono apagado.




Ariadna olvida el mar

El rostro reclinó. Desde la orilla

todo era paz. Olor. Inmensidades.


Verdades concedidas al espacio,

suavemente oscilando entre las ramas.


Aspiró el aire frío que se abría

como un sol de papel en los pulmones.


Saber del mar su luz, su pasadizo.

Atrás dejar la sal. Volver a casa.

Translator's Note

Ana Gorría is widely recognized as one of Spain’s most innovative and important younger poets. Her writing is remarkable for its precision and metaphysical clarity. For Gorría, poetry is a visceral process that examines the limits of the body so as to articulate and unravel paradox. “Is this all that can be known?” she asks. Yes and no, her speakers reply, because “what we call a limit is in fact an orchid.” The language of poetry becomes more than a voice—it becomes a mouth through which its speaker can “breathe like a river against all that disappears.”


The linguistic and philosophical challenges of translating Gorría’s poetry are not without pleasures. In a poetics that reflects her own practice as translator, Gorría confronts ambiguity and grapples with the limits of representation. Parsing the semantics of these difficult and lucid poems was my first priority, the goal being to find an English syntax and diction that would articulate paradox without reducing, blunting, or explaining it away. I also tended to the wide range of allusions in these poems. Gorría and I have an uncanny affinity for many of the same writers, including Alejandra Pizarnik, whose poetry I also translate. While revising the larger manuscript, I read Ingeborg Bachmann, John of the Cross, Gilles Deleuze, Sor Juana, Philip Larkin and many other poets who inform these poems. By first drafting my own translations of the literary references, I was able to simulate Gorría’s poetics of translation. The speakers of these poems wrestle with and synthesize various literary traditions, geometries, and landscapes. In Gorría’s optics, poetry becomes a familiar place estranged: “the landscape that is a body that is a landscape.” Modernist fragmentation, polyphony, and spatiality are refracted and repurposed so that the reader notices not only the lattices of a shattered window, but also the clear morning sky behind it.

Yvette Siegert


In the Classroom