on the cold frost
caressing the stone of their chests,
in the sculpted time of their auras.
In the eternal stillnes of their arms
condemned to the body.
Expect me in the hands
covered with hollows,
with no pulse in the veins, nor cartilage,
with no joy raising in the flesh
the soft hair that lives in the pore.
in the concave mirror
of their blind pupils,
that cannot dream whilst they watch you.
Maybe when the shadows
stop mating in the corners,
and the roar of the wind
does not drag in its assault
the echoes of your name.
Perhaps when the rain doesn’t bite
unexpectedly the dusty leaves,
and I do not drink into my skin uncertainty,
and disgust dilutes the ashes
that cover the shelves.
When the glass pours out the sour-sweet
juice of ochre
over my eternal hangover,
and the image stops walking about
grainy and shameless,
Only then, maybe,
I will no longer love you.
On the sheets
I look at your seduced torso
for an instant that now
is made ancient.
The satisfied gesture of your lips
stained by the ochre
of a cigarette.
But night, love,
still is not gone,
and passes over the cornices, and licks
promiscuous games that mix up
the sexes. A spasm of bodies
And my hands return to your
to your anointed thighs, the rains
of my tongue.
María Teresa González
From Con húmedos lamentos de felino (1990)
María Teresa González was born in Tremañes, Gijón in 1950. Her mother died when she was just 13 years old and her father when she was 16 leaving her with the responsibility of looking after herself and her brothers. She worked for twenty years in an electrical appliance business until, in 1987, she was made unemployed and retrained as a nurse in mental health care.
She began writing in her thirties, stealing time from work to sketch out the broad themes of her work: the exploitation of working women; memories of childhood; love poetry; elogies to the sea; friendship; and meditations on dying. Besides poetry she wrote short stories and essays.
She died after a long illness in 1995.
This three part poem is like a pop song: strong on imagery with powerful lines to remember. The first first line that I have translated as “Expect me…” can also be “Wait for me…” in Spanish. What is the writer saying? It seems clear to me that her lover will find her in the “concave mirror” of the statues’ pupils, not the reverse. That is where the lover should expect to find her.
This is bleak. Cold frost, stillness, and hairless pores all symbolise the deathly postures of stone, with no passion, no blood in the veins, no lust. Lust is a good word to use with María Theresa González who is openly physical in her love poetry. You can see this in the next part where things start to dissolve. If the first part was all solid certainty the second part is modulated by the subjunctive. Wind and water, shadows and ashes, roaring sound and grainy images: you can feel the lines shake with a different life. Here the pores open so that she can drink uncertainty into her skin.
The resolution in the last part combines the two. Her lover’s body becomes a torso, as if it were the statue made ancient in a moment. Yet its lips are stained with the ochre of a cigarette: the same ochre as the liquid in her glass in the previous part; an earth colour. Night itself is the animating spirit which walks over the cornices and licks the rooftops. It reminds me of the London fog in Prufrock, but here it is an animating fog that brings about passionate coupling. The fog turns to rain.
All images evocative of Asturias.