You are currently viewing choking, little by little
Egon Schiele, Häuser mit bunter Wäsche (Vosrstadt II), 1914.

Language: Spanish
Poet: Martha Asunción Alonso
Translator: Robin Munby
Region: Spain


choking, little by little

A poem by Martha Asunción Alonso, translated from Spanish by Robin Munby

Martha Asunción Alonso is a poet, translator, teacher and feminist from Madrid. Her poetry collections include Archipiélaga. Antología personal (2019, UNAH), Balkánica (2018, Torremozas) and Wendy (2015, Pre-textos). Her translation into Spanish of Maryse Condé’s Moi, Tituba sorcière…Noire de Salem was published earlier this year by Editorial Impedimenta.

Robin Munby is a literary translator from Liverpool and based in Madrid. His translations have appeared in publications including Asymptote, Wasafiri, Apofenie, World Literature Today and The Glasgow Review of Books. He works primarily from Spanish, Russian and Asturian into English.


Íbamos en el coche a Ponferrada,
donde mi abuelo se asfixiaba poco a poco.
Mi padre conducía con los ojos anémicos,
sin mirar el paisaje:
Castilla era su padre y se estaba muriendo.
Yo pensaba en Machado.
Cruzábamos las nubes por la meseta,
horizonte de arcilla,
pinares apretados donde fuimos salvajes y hubo sol.
Las vides retorcidas por el frío.
Los hilos del telégrafo, aquel toro. Íbamos
en el coche al hospital de Ponferrada.
El mundo era franela, y era adobe.
Silicosis del tiempo.
Yo pensé: Leonor.
¿Qué pensaba mi padre?
Castilla era su padre. Y se acababa.


We were on our way to Ponferrada,
where my grandad was choking, little by little.
My father drove with anaemic eyes,
no thought for the scenery:
Castilla was his father, and it was dying.
I was thinking about Machado.
We crossed the clouds of the meseta,
a clay horizon,
dense forests of pine, where we were wild and there was sun.
Vines contorted by cold.
Telegraph wires, that bull. We were
on our way to the hospital in Ponferrada.
The world was flannel and adobe.
Silicosis of time.
I thought: Leonor.
What was my father thinking?
His father was Castilla, coming to an end.

This poem is excerpted from the collection Wendy by Martha Asunción Alonso, translated by Robin Munby