Lights like Poets by Fina García Marruz, translated by Katherine M. Hedeen and Janet McAdams


The evening empties, inexplicably.
Places no longer receive us,
toss us out, to the elements. There’s
cold and wind. Sounds
linger, trembling in the air,
don’t know to disappear.
And then a poet
the usual one, somewhere,
takes a blank sheet of paper, totals up
the void (consoled by
the fine arabesque of his writing
on silence), drafts
an image, a lovely
turn of phrase perhaps, perhaps
fleeting, no matter.
No one will know the other half
of his day, falling into shadow,
the real, the not written, what was
knocking at the doors of everything beautiful
like a beggar. And who knows
if the snow, the star,
are also the void’s
merciful stories, and you,
you, too, lights
of autumn, lit up
houses, so many other
beggar poets?


Fina García Marruz’s many books include Las Miradas Perdidas (The Lost Glances), Visitaciones (Visitations), and Habana del Centro (Central Havana). A founding member of the Origenes group, and its only female member, she is widely considered to be Cuba’s most important living poet.

Katherine M. Hedeen is Professor of Spanish at Kenyon College. Her latest book-length translations include Nothing Out of This World, an anthology of contemporary Cuban poetry. She is an associate editor of Earthwork’s Latin American Poetry in Translation Series for Salt Publishing, an acquisitions editor for Arc Publications, an editor for Cubanabooks, and Translation Editor at the Kenyon Review. She is a two-time recipient of a NEA Translation Project Grant.

Janet McAdams is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently Seven Boxes for the Country After, from Kent State Press. She teaches at Kenyon College, where she is an Editor at Large for the Kenyon Review and holds the Robert P. Hubbard Chair in Poetry.