From Julia de Burgos

This project was based on a prompt from a weekly set posted on another site. I don’t think I’ll do all of them but this one struck my fancy.

The instructions were to:

Choose a favorite poem written by somebody else, type a copy of it, delete every other line from the poem, and write your own lines to replace those you’ve deleted. Next, delete the remaining lines from the old poem so that only your lines remain. Read what you have, and revise it, adding new lines to fill in the gaps.

For an added twist, the original poem “A Julia de Burgos” was in Spanish–I’d read it before and I wanted to practice the language. A lot of the stanzas were “you are this/but I am that”, so I deleted the “I am that” line and wrote new ones to go with it. So the end result was “I am x/I am y/I am z/I am something else…” which meant I didn’t need to fill a whole lot in.

That we are doomed to battle and you will win out over me
Is too nonsensical to be a lie.
No field could tilt so far to field such a battle.
I would strip naked to rid myself of you.

I am the warm truth that slices through each scene.
I am the frigid water from an unforgiving lake.
I am like the universe, I see myself in no direction.
I am the singing girl in a thousand harmonies.
I am in my work, I am in each day.

The earth caresses me, the water saves me.
You are turning and bowing, slithering and slanting,
I slowly step forward, one day at a time.

You cannot be trusted to your own device
Pushing you towards the dazzling things;
Broken glass, broken promises, rushing poison.
I am pushed by something beyond me,
The more harrowing of the bosses, in the end.

You owe the honeybees that swoop to your lineage.
You are the zero we cannot but skirt around.
Between you and me we hold humankind.

And all of humankind converges in the limit,
Returning to the water that they cannot escape
They begin to rise as one.
And though it takes all the time in the world,
There will be more of me than what has burned away.


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