The Acentos Review - Youth


MAriela Griffor


The room was small and cheap.

As darkness settled over the capital of Santiago,

a thin crucifix hung above the headboard.        

A garden in the blanket’s embroidery         

embraced simple copihues and violets,                  

and when we glanced at these threads

they seemed to blink at us.

Who could have the time to embroider           

tiny blue, yellow, red flowers

on the borders of this quilt?

An old woman who knew of the resilient

shape of a young woman’s heart, 

asleep for the first time with her husband?

No evil hand makes such a garden.       

Still, we breathed a fear of torture

and when he came back to the hotel, after his

lens in photography class saw everything,

we ran up the street to a restaurant.

The smell of curantos and fresh bread

and corn pie was a reminder we could stay

there forever among shellfish

and fishermen with red cheeks,

knives in harsh hands that opened

that traitor Pacific Ocean.

How the ocean eats bodies in silence,

in an act of revenge, but succulent waters

spit up oysters or fish.

When we went back to the room,

he called me to warm his body.

We fell asleep as two old friends.

He made me promise if we ever had

a child, and if he was not there, I would leave the country.

I slept like a cat until morning

The noisy street opened long before my eyes,

And as I was going for my breakfast

Everyone else was going for lunch. 

He wanted me to pose with a lobster.

I agreed only if it was the last time    

he made me touch shellfish. 


If He would cast a spell on me

I will strike back without affection.

If He would give me sorrow,

I will rise in the morning hideous-faced with malice

reminding him I’m his own acquisition.

I believe I’m chosen for something else.

Sometimes a song in despair with its secrets,

sometimes a woman in suffering

or a storyteller on the edge of silence.

I will pray on his voice entering me forever.

If He would let me dream without any dreams,

and live without love, a miracle love!

I will make him fear his own failure.

On the other hand, if he would

let me into the avenues of poplars

I knew as a dancer, I will run away from the

spooky willows and be his child.

I will be in silence to keep the tears

from the Skorpion’s bites and I will

suspend his tail raising and falling

on the trees. I will talk to the leaves.

We will be waltzing deep and immense.


Mariela Griffor was born in the city of Concepción in southern Chile. She is the author of Exiliana (2007) and House (2007) and founder of Marick Press. Her work has appeared in Passages North, Cerise Press, Washington Square Review and others. Mariela holds a B.A in Journalism from Wayne State University and M.F.A. in Creative Writing from New England College. Her forthcoming  publications include the translations: Canto General by Pablo Neruda (Tupelo Press, 2013), At Half Mast by Carmen Berenguer, Militants Poems by Raul Zurita, Desolation by Gabriela Mistral and, Bye, have a good time! by Kristina Lugn. She is Honorary Consul of Chile in Michigan.