Génesis doméstico / My Private Genesis by Teresa Calderón

This entry is part 8 of 34 in the series Poetry from the Other Americas

Teresa CalderónBorn in 1955 in Chile to a family of writers and of the Left, Teresa Calderón produced nine collections of poetry between 1979 and 2009, as well as editing — with her poet husband Tomás Harris and poet sister Lila Calderón — several significant anthologies of Chilean poetry. She’s also the author of many novels. She writes often and powerfully of female experience, but refuses identification with feminism. In recent years she’s expressed disillusion with the Centre-Left coalition governments that returned Chile to democracy after the coup and dictatorship that overshadowed her early adulthood, in particular with their policies — or lack of policies — for arts and culture.


My Private Genesis

There in the watery vault
each half of my genetic code was reaching out
A tiny ovum having yielded to insistent sperm
was waiting for the darkest night
the silence right before the miracle
The cell now fertile opened like a flower
and I began becoming hair and nails and skin
A feeling blinking
floating mass
thumb-sucking through the sleepless nights
of journeying to human form
What flash of fear shot through my brain
as the expulsion from my paradise began?
Who gave me breath to undertake the crossing
from the wide-open tunnel
between my mother’s bloody legs?
How did I get to be this jellied substance
moaning between two worlds?
Naked and crying where I skidded to a halt
my skin all bruised the rope around my neck
and this dark mark upon my brow
Naked and crying
my first dawn with sightless eyes
the lighthouse beam the moon still in the sky
Like a flower decomposing underground
I shall return to the beloved city I was forced to leave
naked and crying tumbling foetus-like in fateful waters
growing long roots towards rebirth

Génesis doméstico

En la bóveda acuosa
se buscaban las mitades de mi información genética
Un óvulo pequeño rendido al apremio del espermio
esperaba la noche más oscura
el silencio que precede al milagro
Fecundada la célula se abrió como una flor
y empecé a volverme pelo uñas piel
sensaciones y pestañas
Una masa flotante
se mordía el pulgar en las noches de insomnio
acercándose a la apariencia humana
¿Qué ráfaga de miedo me atravesó el cerebro
cuando empezó la expulsión del paraíso?
¿Quién me dio el aliento para iniciar la travesía
desde el túnel abierto
entre las piernas sangrantes de mi madre?
¿Cómo me hice gelatina y sustancia
gemido entre este mundo y el otro?
Desnuda y llorando dónde vine a parar
con la piel amoratada la soga al cuello
y esta marca oscura sobre la frente
Desnuda y llorando
mi primera madrugada los ojos ciegos
el faro y una luna abierta en el cielo
Regresaré como esa flor que se deshace bajo tierra
a la ciudad amada que me obligó a partir
desnuda y llorando dando tumbos fetales en el agua fatal
alargada en raíces para volver a nacer

Series Navigation← Contrary Moon: three poems by Cecília MeirelesHow to recognize the road: three more poems by Cecília Meireles →

1 Comment


  1. That’s terrific, Jean, a wonderful translation of this powerful poem.

    Reply

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