In memory of the runaway (fugáu) Ladino Suárez
How much pain there was amongst the ivy
That now covers the stones,
Once a house.
How much silence.
He realised the grave of the past
Had been in need of it all this time.
Awaiting the return of flesh separated from bones
That were devoured by wolves.
Holding out for those last eyes to testify
To the greatest of atrocities:
The definitive mutilation of forgetting.
La Quema (Gijón: Trea, 2011) is a slender volume by Vanessa Gutiérrez. I have been particularly keen to extend my reading of contemporary Galician women poets. Carmen bought me this little book to demonstrate there are women poets in Asturias too! Since we have just passed International Women’s Day, this post can be a brief tribute.
My desire to research women poets comes from a suspicion that the publishing world is rather sexist in its assumptions, and the disturbing question, “What happened to women after Rosalía de Castro?”
Vanessa Gutiérrez with her bleak and nihilistic vision seems to come in a direct line from Rosalía. After my first reading I skipped back through the poems looking only at the last lines and confirmed for myself that each poem ends with a swift epigrammatic punch: death, pain, separation, lost hope, disillusion. It is strong stuff. Rosalía also likes to reserve a deception to slip in at the end of her poems.
I chose this poem to translate because the fugáus are not well-known outside of Spain. After the end of the Civil War small groups of runaways got together in the mountains of Asturias to keep up the resistance against Franco. They survived for up to eight years living in caves and isolated shacks. This link will take you to an article about one of the last fugáus to die: