Weekly Poem: ‘Physical Portrait / Retrato fisico’

BY Arts Desk  August 24, 2009 at 12:14 PM EDT

By Cecilia Vicuna

My skull is shaped like a hazelnut
and my buttocks feisty
over two ticklish melon-thighs.
With my heliotrope knees
and ankles of pumice stone
a neck of African birch
none of me is white
apart from my teeth,
not even the whites of my eyes,
which are of an indefinable color.
I have twenty fingers
I’m not very sure I can keep —
they are always on the verge of falling off
even though I love them.
After that, I end. The rest
I keep at the edge of the ocean.
I am not shameless enough
to tell the truth
and every time there is a ditch
I fall in
because I’m neither cautious
nor wary.

(Rosa Alcala, trans.)

Retrato fisico

Tengo el craneo en forma de avellana
y unas nalgas fetivas a la orilla
de unos muslos cosquillosos de melon.
Tengo rodillas de heliotropo
y tobillos de piedra pomez
cuello de abedul africano
porque aparte de los dientes
no tengo nada blanco
ni la esclerotida de color indefinible.
Tengo veinte dedos
y no estoy muy segura
de poder conservarlos
siempre estan a punto de caerse
aunque los quiero mucho.
Despues me termino y lo demas
lo guardo a la orilla del mar.
No soy muy desvergonzada
a decir verdad
siempre que hay un hoya
me caigo dentro
porque no soy precavida
ni sospechosa.

Cecilia VicunaBorn in Chile, Cecilia Vicuna is a poet and artist. Her visual work has been exhibited at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Santiago, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, the Whitney Museum of American Art and MoMA in New York. The author of 16 books, her poetry has been translated into several languages. Vicuna is also co-editor of the Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry, which was published this month.