Lord, the angels you sent are here now, beating their wings above
I cling to them by a thread of blood, but I’m afraid the thread
And plunged as they are in darkness I still can’t see them, but I
believe they are many, and some are beautiful and deserve to live.
Look, Lord. I can’t feed them all with this meager blood of
mine, and I don’t want them to die, like a mother who fears losing the
child in her womb—although she may have never wanted him before and he might
be the fruit of her labor after—I don’t want a single one to die.
Lord, give me a star to nurse these children of mother in decline.
And since I’ve forgotten how to sew, give me, just for them, the raiment of the lilies.
Dulce María Loynaz (1902-1997) received international recognition in 1992 for her nearly century-long contributions to Spanish letters when she was awarded the Cervantes Prize, widely recognized as the highest prize in Spanish literature. Often called the “Emily Dickinson of Cuba,” she has written poems celebrated for their precision and modern lyricism. Though born to a patriotic family—her father, General Enrique Loynaz del Castillo, was a national figure, having fought under Antonio Maceo in Cuba’s war for independence—she stopped publishing for several decades following the 1959 Cuban Revolution, as her deeply personal style and themes were incongruous with the period’s ideological control over the arts. She died in Havana City in 1997.
James O’Connor is a poet, playwright, and translator from New York City. He has lived in France and Mexico, and from 1999 to 2000 he lived in Havana, Cuba. In 2006 he was awarded a playwriting fellowship from the Edward F. Albee Foundation.
Feature image by Louise Bourgeois. Pregnant Woman, 2009. Gouache and colored pencil on paper, 23 1/2 × 18 in. © Louise Bourgeois.
Click on the image to enlarge.