Federico Garcia Lorca: “The Faithless Wife”

The Faithless Wife

And so I took her to the river,
believing she was unmarried,
when in fact she had a husband.

It was the feast of Santiago.
It was almost an obligation.
The street lamps went out.
and the crickets lit up.
On the outskirts of town,
I touched her sleeping breasts.
They opened to me suddenly
like hyacinth flowers.
The starch of her slip
crackled in my ears
like a piece of silk torn
apart by ten daggers.
With no silver light on their leaves,
the trees seemed somehow larger.
A horizon of dogs howled
far away from the river.

Past the blackberries,
the reeds, the thorns,
beneath the tufts of her hair
I made a hollow in the earth.
I took off my tie.
She took off her dress.
Me: my belt and revolver.
She: her four, flowing bodices.
Muskroot and seashells
do not have such fine skin.
Glass rimmed with silver
does not shine with such brilliance.
Her thighs slipped from me
like startled fish,
half full of fire,
half full of cold.
And that night I rode
on the greatest of roads,
on a mare made of pearl,
with no stirrups or bridle.
As a man I won’t say
all the things that she told me.
The light of understanding
has made me very discreet.
But I’ll say this:
smeared with kisses and sand,
I took her back from the river,
and the stamens of the lilies
were sword-fighting with the air.

I behaved exactly as I am.
I behaved as a true gypsy does.
I gave her a sewing box,
stuffed with satin-colored straw.
I did not want to fall for her,
for in fact she had a husband,
though she said she was unmarried
when I took her to the river.

Federico Garcia Lorca

Translated from Spanish by Paul Weinfield, © 2013

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