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Mulatta of the Antilles

––by Luis Pales Matos


In you now mulatta,

I receive the warm sea of the Antilles,

Sensual and slow water of molasses,

Port of sugar, hot bay,

With the sunlight resting

Gilding the clean waves,

And the sleepy buzzing of the crowds

That thickens the traffic on the shore.


In you now mulatta,

I cross the sea of the islands.

Small electric currents

In your curves are lengthened and curled up,

Meanwhile over my boat the pensive night

Keeps falling from your eyes.


In you now mulatta

Oh to wake up gloriously in the Antilles!

Wild color that reaches my chest,

Red music fills me with happiness,

And hot aromatic chants

-Lime-tobacco, pineapple-

Numbing the senses

Your intoxicated voices of delight.


You are now, mulatta,

Everything of the land and the sea of my islands.

A symphony of fruit, whose scales

Furiously break in your melodies.

Behold here, the custard apple in its green dress

With its fine and bland pantaloons

Of muslin; behold here the star apple

With its infantile milk, behold here the pineapple

With its soprano crown… All

The fruits. Oh mulatta! You offer me

In the clear bay of your body

By the suns of the tropical burnish.



(Translation by Ron Rodriguez)



Mulatta of the Antilles

––by Luis Pales Matos


Under your command, the plantain and the coconut,

That appoints your golden artillery

The transient ship that leaves us

Its blond contraband of tourists.

In a wild horse of a hurricane you go on singing

Your Creole song, dark valkirie,

With flickering spur of lightning bolts

I ride the green Valhalla of the islands.


You are immensely free and without limitations,

You are love without shackles and without hurries;

In your womb my two races conjugate

Your vital expansive potencies.

Love, torrid love of the mulatta,

Cock of rum, melted sugar,

Coconut shell kissed through the marrow,

With the essence of sandalwood and myrrh.

With voices of the Chanter of Chanters,

You are dark because the sun looks at you.


Below your tongue there is milk and honey

And ointment spilled on your pupils.

Like the tower of David, your neck,

And your breasts like twin musk deer.

Flower of Saron y lily of the valleys,

Mare of Faraon, Oh Salamita!


Cuba, Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico,

Foggy and sensual land of mine.

Oh the hot rums of Jamaica!

Oh fierce gumbo of Martinique!

Oh fermented night of Haitian

Drums impenetrable and vuduistic!

Dominica, Tortola, Guadalupe,

Antilles, my Antilles!



(Translation by Ron Rodriguez)



[Originally published in NHS 2009, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs09/Ron_Rodriguez.htm.]