From Guerrila Blooms

Daniela Catrileo

Translated from the bilingual Spanish/Mapudungun edition by Edith Adams

Covered in greens great and small a den of leaves back l i t a movement morning breeze and suddenly


Behind the ferns emerge like a heavenly body but greener still 

I recall a dance of insects shining like stars one by one in the tender flower of your diadem a museum of tiny invertebrates that swayed your hair A wake of creatures hanging thread to thread like an afternoon beneath the sun

Then I don’t know what you said but that gesture was enough teeth against lips to turn your body into jungle that blooms after the storm

Yes I stayed in your mouth when the tremors began and in the thicket of the mountain a pair of lights palpitating over the dell

In that instant the whole day was transformed
composition of meteorites and sparks
wading clouds

From afar we heard an explosion
lashings of wind thunder snakes
rumbled announcing the storm


I left my hand on your back
and I held you
waiting for what they call destiny

The stars signaled the slaughter
like guardians of our secret
but it was late and there was fog
  burns and ships blooming to surface

At the next blink of waves
wakes     fallen embers
lit up the sky like lightning
that dwells before it splits
the perpetual darkness of its dome

From the sky fell splinters
              and ashes
              and our naked bodies
were dressed in the guts of the ocean
radiating our eyelids
until the question

We already knew about ourselves
discarded islands under gods
impossible to name

No future     And now what?
Now every eye negotiates for itself

We rehearse a scene of uproar
to anger the mountain
with masks that cover
vestments     skins of fierce panthers
and our hearts at the center

A jungle geography
where we train arrows and choreographies
for our sentinels

    After that
nights were nothing more
than the invention of origin
a handful of deaths beneath the stars
and perhaps
a bit of añejo mezcal
born from the first tree

Before the horror we were alive
We longed to be the sun 

Burdened by images
that spread to visions of the occupation
we swam the afternoon til corals
that resist
    the hurricane of time

We stifled breath
watching ourselves     every so often
beneath the prism of the waters
    clinging to seaweed as it branches its stems

Time and again we ride
fearless waves to the end
trusting that each smile will be
a farewell to sad archipelagos
    unaware of their own solitude

Daniela Catrileo (b. 1987) is a Mapuche poet, activist, and professor of philosophy. She has published multiple collections of poetry, including Río herido (2016) and Guerra florida (2018), and two chapbooks: El territorio del viaje (2017) and Las aguas dejaron de unirse a otras aguas (2020).

Edith Adams is a literary translator from Spanish into English. She is currently completing her PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California and has participated in the Bread Loaf Translators Conference, the Kenyon Review Literary Translation Workshop, and the Banff International Literary Translation Centre. This would be her first published translation.