Monday, July 2, 2012


by Elsa Cross

Translated by Margaret Sayers Penden

The afternoon is absorbed in your silence.

Flocks of butterflies,
waves breaking upon waves:
                                               to what can I compare
this flowing in my heart?

Summer hides everything beneath its green aura
And in the cool freshness of this ivy,
in the purity of this scent of water
                                                    upon the earth,
there I find you.
My hands do not touch you,
but I see you in my heart.
Like flame you shimmer.
Like ivy you spread,
you are entangled
                            in invisible roots,
you lift a tender tendril.
Your sap rises ,
                        covers everything,
circulate through me,
moves through miniscule veins
                                               from roots to stems,
from unfolding leaves 
to resplendent
              moist world,
families of snails trek across the glass
when everything is covered
                                         with green ivy.


Elsa Cross (b. 1946) is one of Mexico's most significant contemporary poets. She was awarded the Aguascalientes National Poetry Prize  in 1989 and Jaime Sabines International Poetry Prize in 1992. Her poems have been translated into twelve languages and published in magazines and more than sixty anthologies in different countries. She has also published essays. Elsa Cross has an MA and PhD in Philosophy from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where she holds a professorship and teaches Philosophy of Religion and Comparative Mythology. In 2008 Elsa Cross was awarded the most prestigious poetry prize in Mexico, the Xavier Villurrutia Prize.She has spent certain period of her life in an ashram in India and many of her poems reflect Indian philosophy.

The above poem is a quiet mediation on the lingering and all enveloping presence of a  lover like an ivy  even in her/his absence . It is replete with subtle erotic imageries too. The flurry of activities and the mirth of all beings in summer is beautifully captured in the last stanza.

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