Shenandoah Volume 68, Number 1
Volume 68, Number 1 · Fall 2018

No me alcanzan los brazos de la tierra

No me alcanzan los brazos de la tierra
no me alcanza la vida
mis amantes me duelen
andan por mi cerebro y son
la vida que no tuve
el silencio anterior
ya estoy definitiva muerta
tuve una casa
tuve tantos hijos subterráneos fantasmas
de noche me hostigaban
cosas y voces que no sé
tú podías haber sido mi padre
tú podías haber sido mi hijo
las calles por donde nos moríamos
no tenían sentido
despierta así no volverás a ser
tócame no hay parte de mi cuerpo
que no sea universal
sé que palpo en silencio
cosas que no he vivido
tristes constelaciones
piernas playas arenas
mutilados enfermos
yo nunca estaré muerta
me dolerán las uñas
los cuerpos los abrazos
los viajes la aventura feroz de cada célula.

The arms of the earth can’t hold me

translated from the Spanish by Jeannine M. Pitas

The arms of the earth can’t hold me life can’t hold me
my lovers hurt me
they walk through my brain and become
the life I never had
the previous silence I’m now definitively dead
I had a house I had so many underground ghost children
at night strange things unknown voices
would harass me
you could have been my father
you could have been my son
the streets where we died
made no sense
you’ll never be that awake again
touch me there’s no part of my body
that isn’t universal
I know I grope in silence
for things I’ve not experienced
sad constellations
legs beaches sands
the mutilated the infirm
I will never be dead
my nails will still hurt
and the bodies the embraces
the journeys
each cell’s wild adventure.


Selva Casal is the award-winning author of fifteen books of poetry. A former lawyer, Casal is inspired by her experiences working with people who have faced injustice. Her 1975 publication of No vivimos en vano [We do not live in vain] during the military dictatorship in Uruguay resulted in her losing her position as a professor of sociology. She resides in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Jeannine M. Pitas is a writer, teacher, and Spanish-English translator living in Iowa, where she teaches at the University of Dubuque. Her translation of four books by Marosa di Giorgio, published as I Remember Nightfall by Ugly Duckling Presse, was shortlisted for the 2018 National Translation Award. Her most recent poetry chapbook, Thank You For Dreaming, was published by Lummox Press in 2018.