100 Refutations: Day 58


Mamá! Borinquén calls me!
This is not my country!
Borinquén is pure flame,
and here, I freeze to death!

After a better future
the native stead I left,
to set up store
in mid New York.

All around, I see
a sad panorama,
as my soul calls out,
nostalgia wounded,
to return to nation’s nest.
Mamá, Borinquén calls me!

Where will I find
like in my homeland
arroz con pollo,
y un buen café?

Where, where will I see
radiant and adorned,
untamed girls like running horses,
whose beholders’ eyes they blind
with only one look of their own?
For here, eyes don’t shine.
This country is not mine!

And if I hear a song,
one of those learnt back home,
or even just a dance, from Tavárez,
Campos, or Dueño Colón,
my tender heart
does swell
as the faithful’s herald proclaims
a sacred sentiment,
tears in my eyes…
Borinquén is pure flame!

In my land, what delight!
In the raw of winter
not a single naked tree,
nor a meadow without green.

In the garden, arresting flower,
as gossips to the river walk,
and the bird in a dark forest
sings an arbitrary song,
While here…snow is shroud!
And I freeze to death!


Translator’s Note: Borinquén is the native name for Puerto Rico.


Virgilio Dávila

Virgilio Dávila (1869-1943) was born in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Though he experimented with a Romantic style of verse, he is often mentioned as the primary representative of the Modernist movement in Puerto Rico. The influence of Rubén Darío, for example, can be clearly noted throughout his work. He devoted many of his poems to the indigenous beauty of his native island and unique syncretic culture therein. He was widely published by the time he died in Bayamón in 1943.

Lina M. Ferreira C.-V.

Lina M. Ferreira C.-V. earned MFAs in creative nonfiction writing and literary translation from The University of Iowa. She is the author of Drown Sever Sing from Anomalous Press and Don’t Come Back from Mad River Books, as well as editor, with Sarah Viren, of the forthcoming anthology Essaying the Americas. Her fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and translation work has been featured in journals including Bellingham ReviewChicago ReviewFourth GenreBrevityPoets & Writers, and The Sunday Rumpus, among others. She won Best of the Net and Iron Horse Review’s Discovered Voices Award, has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, and is a Rona Jaffe fellow. She moved from Colombia to China to Columbus, Ohio to Richmond, Virginia, where she works as an assistant professor for Virginia Commonwealth University. Visit www.linawritesessays.com.

English translation copyright (c) Lina M. Ferreira C.-V., 2018.