Sweet longing
by Alfredo Espino

Those times were like a story . . .
In the bright garden, blossoming St. Andrew’s Cross
filled the soft silence of my home with gold,
and clear stars shivered in the basin.

At that time I thought the world was a grand garden
of flowers and basins dotted with points of light.
I watched the mountains and believed they were enormous
backs, shouldering the domed sky.

Once, before the Virgin of Sorrows,
in the quiet half-light of my warm room,
I lit a candle . . . I wished for a miracle: coins
to appear suddenly in my little wooden chest.

And I was so upset
when I saw the pale Virgin’s eyes bitter and wet,
but I begged and begged her for forgiveness
when, later, mischievously, I killed a bird.

The charm went away . . . it went away . . . blurred.
It went away blurring that time that seemed like a story.
Life was no garden with flowers and basins,
and I didn’t ask the Virgin for any more miracles.

At fifteen, I remember when I read her name
it made me sick for days,
and I shed more than a few tears.
I nursed a sad desire to be like Ephraim.

These memories come through my open window.
Oh my hushed garden, murmurous with birds
and the humble window whose square framed
a piece of the sky, which I pretended
was a magnificent blue scrap of cloth.

                           —translated from the Spanish by Dylan Carpenter

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 41 Number 10, on page 26
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