Andrés Rodríguez
The Witch

I am Quirino Vega.
My poisons are from malignant birds
to pick padlocks and memories.
I have spells, moreover, to take away evil
and turn back an enemy.

I, Quirino Vega,
know how to kill living lime, but I still suffer.
Years ago I died for an angel.
My woman, Chagua Théspan, survived me,
she and her ten children.
Six women now snared without marriage.
And the rest, some crazy boys
happy as holidays.

What I know I inherited from my father.
He knew about things.
So many things! He managed to leave much that’s good.
For example, his wild partridge heart
and that pure insistence that everything in this world
find its place like water standing firm in the swamp.

The name he gave me,
so say the coral rocks,
was so I wouldn’t lose my way,
so thorns wouldn’t leave any traces in my memory,
so ants would bring me dying worms, dead toads,
and the heads of mysterious plants
that can dry up the water of fonts.

I, Quirino Vega,
have always gotten myself in trouble
for telling the truth pointblank
and not selling my rights for pottage.

I’ve been more sinned against than sinning.
But there I go, from memory to memory,
more loved than air or money,
dividing myself up in blue, to full hands,
giving myself truly, completely new in each surrender.
Yes, without sweating ink, but proud.
Thus are we witches of Izalco.

Translation by Andrés Rodríguez