You are currently viewing Your breath bright with presence is origin.

Language: Spanish
Poet: Pilar Fraile Amador
Translator: Lizzie Davis


Your breath bright with presence is origin.

Three poems by Pilar Fraile Amador, translated from the Spanish by Lizzie Davis

Pilar Fraile Amador is one of the most innovative of the generation of poets to come of age in post-Franco Spain. She writes in a voice beyond the constraints of self-isolating, institutionalized Spanish poetry, creating work that is non-linear, multi-vocal, and disjunctive. Poems from her collection Larva & Hedge move with stark grace and invite the reader to enter into an imaginative coexistence, a world at once surreal and imbued with a sense of déja vu. Within this unearthly province, poet and reader alike must consider the play between the intimate and the collective, the past and the present, the human and the animal.

Larva, the section in which the following poems appear, explores an undercurrent of unnoticed correspondence that exists between human beings, a wellspring of the collective subconscious. Here, individual and communal memories intermix and alter one another, and the living are able to communicate with objects and the dead. Inherited memories both enable and limit a speaker struggling to articulate her difference.

Fraile Amador investigates the destruction of the name as one means to strip selfhood from context. Names, these poems posit, allow us to recognize and to be recognized but can just as easily function as cages: they distance us from all within us that cannot be articulated. In Larva, the name–bestowed by mother and father, a bridge between two halves–is set on fire. The first lines of the volume show that this act is simultaneously generative and destructive: “I make tinder of my name / and wait for the seed.”

–Lizzie Davis

Born in Salamanca in 1975, Pilar Fraile Amador earned her PhD in Philosophy from University of Oviedo and currently teaches at Enseñanza Secundaria. In 2005, Fraile Amador was awarded the Poetry Prize from the University of Zaragoza. Her publications include El límite de la ceniza (Prensas universitarias de Zaragoza), Larva (Editorial Amphibia) and La pecera subterránea (Ediciones Amargord). Her work has also been featured in the homage for José Ángel Valente, Pajaros Raíces (Abada Editores), and in the anthology La república de la imaginación (Legados Ediciones), as well as in translator and poet Forrest Gander’s most recent book of translation, Panic Cure: Poems from Spain for the 21st Century.
Lizzie Davis is a translator, poet, and musician living in Providence, Rhode Island. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Brooklyn RailClerestory Journal of the ArtsThe Round, and Aldus, a Journal of Translation, among others.




debajo de los objetos hundidos
en el blanco busco barro
y hallo mi costumbre


como luz viene el tacto


hueco donde viven las cosas



hondas también
las señales salida
peligro prohibido

despierto y sigue allí
misma sombra
la frente


bajo la lluvia
ácida humedad
hubo cuerpos
amados velas

arañé mi certeza

como canto fue
el fango para el
tronco perdido




Digo boca

ojo anatomía.





Ángeles que entran en la casa y ya estamos
volviendo. Para qué de nuevo mi costumbre.


Digo boca

ojo retroceso.




Ven. Pon tu llaga en mi mano.


Quizá haya venido yo

para curarte. Observo tu
silueta en el muro
alcanzo tu pasado y algo



se rompe detrás de lo que veo.




Despierta tu voz

y su ceniza. Te
extensor frágil
mientras nombras el golpe.

¿Qué signo usaré para tu rostro?




under sunken objects
in the void
i search for clay

and find only my rituals


like light comes the touch

to deep

crater where artifacts live

a rift

deep as
the chanting

i wake up
it’s still there
the same shadow
bathing my


in the rain
sour dampness
there were bodies
beloveds candles
lit up


i clawed at my certainty

like the song the
mud sings for
the fallen trunk




I say mouth

eye anatomy.

Spirits have settled inside the house and

still we’re coming back. To act out the ritual again.

I say mouth

eye relapse.




Come closer. Show me your wound.


Maybe I’ve come
to cure you. I watch your
silhouette on the wall I
outdistance your past and



just out of sight.



Your voice comes to

and its ashes. I remember
vast fragile
while you point to the break.

What symbol will I use for your face?



Vengo de tu caída. De tus manos
amasando el pan de los señores.
Vengo de las veces que por el suelo recogiste
almendras o frutos consumidos para
encender el hogar.
Vengo de los cementerios bajo la lluvia. De las
tumbas mojadas que desaparecen.
Vengo de tu cuerpo nunca dicho por nadie. De tu
cuerpo marcado por el aliento de las bestias.
Vengo de tu cuerpo robado y de tus ojos

grises de comprensión y de memoria.


Vivo en tus ojos

donde nacen las flores del invierno.


Con aquel hueco voraz en el centro
de tu pecho subías los caminos

ocultas ahora tu frente. Una y otra vez
bajas los ojos y sé que conoces la

Nunca seré más tú que en tu silencio.


Caigo en ti desde mi nada.

Creo que no percibes el inevitable ascenso
de la luz. Encendida de presencia tu
es el origen.

Renaces. Sin distancia. Voz unida a su deseo. 



I come from your fall. From your hands
kneading bread for the men.
I come from the curve in your spine
when you bent to scoop almonds and
shriveled-up seeds from the floor.
I come from graveyards in rain,
soaking tombs that sink into ground.
From your unspoken body. Your body
bruised by the breath of the animals.
From your stolen body and your

dull from understanding and from memory.


I live in those eyes

where the winterflowers are born.


You unfastened the path with that hole like an open mouth
in your chest.

now you hide your forehead. Again and again
and dim your eyes
certain you know already what’s

I’ll never be more you than in your silence.


I surrender to you in my blankness.

You don’t see the light’s inevitable
climb. Your breath
bright with presence
is origin.

Reborn. Closer. Voice and hunger


Hay una hendidura que el cristal deja en el hueso
cae hacía la sangre. ¿Qué quiero nombrar de esa
herida? ¿Es su furor
al abatir las arterias? ¿Es el hueco que crea entre los


Hay algo que nace del dolor. Como una
mariposa en un desierto de hielo.



Para quién caeré bajo la niebla. Trazo un
puente para mi nombre
como los animales que vinieron a ver correr a
las yeguas. Alcanzo el humo. El musgo crece
lento. Inútil para habitar lo que desciende. La
hambrienta partitura del porvenir.



Para quién caeré bajo la lluvia.



No hay punto de regreso. Ahora lo sé. Mi
suspendido recita: éramos centros de nada en lucha
por negarse ávidamente.

Para quién caeré…


Todas las pistas fueron falsas. Inútil acercarse hasta
el granito

inútil decir que he nacido entre los lirios. Y todas
borradas por el agua.


Célula luz
recinto o larva
que crece.
¿Cuántas veces

llenará mi cuerpo la pregunta?
¿Cuántas veces estando erguido
este animal desnudo trepará
hasta mi cráneo con su mano




Tiempo aullido. Víscera

de algún otro organismo que trata de mostrar su


Plantas que crecen como animales
dormidos. leche amarga
manando de las rocas.


Salvaje ceguera donde nace mi cuerpo.


The shard carved fissures in bone
slipped toward your blood. How can I
name your suffering? The frenzy that
knotted your arteries? The gap that stared out
from between your muscles?


Something grows out of pain. One
winged thing in a wasteland of ice.



For whom will I disappear into fog. I trace
a bridge for my name
like the creatures that gather to watch
the mares run. I reach for smoke. Moss grows
slowly. It’s senseless to try to inhabit what sinks. The
hungry tablature of future.



For whom will I fall under rain



The turning point has passed. I know it now. My
suspended recites it: in the fight to refuse
we were no more than observers.

For whom will I fall


All the clues were fake. It’s useless to reach for
the granite

useless to say I was born among irises. And all
of them
erased by the movement of water.



Cell light
enclosure or larva
that grows.
How many times

will body be question?
How many times will the animal
reaching for
my skull?



Howling. Viscera

an organism tries to
set itself apart.          


Plants that grow like
sleeping animals. spoiled milk
that trickles from rocks.


Feral blindness where my body is born.