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First Read—From “Camouflage”

By Lupe Gómez
Translated By Erín Moure

In Camouflage, excerpted below, Galician poet Lupe Gómez explores her mother and her mother tongue, and her land and its changes. The collection is out today with Circumference Books, with English translations by Erín Moure.


I arrived full of scars, creases, and mendings.
Not breathing.

You worried yourself sick.

You carried me outside into the yard
and made me into a toy corpse.

You carried me on a magical elephant to Betanzos.
The animal ran and breathed vigorously.

Viña chea de cicatrices, marcas e remendos.
Non respiraba.

Ti angustiábaste.

Sacabádesme á eira
e convertíame nun cadáver de xoguete.
Leváchesme nun elefante máxico a Betanzos.
O animal corría e respiraba con forza.



You washed hands and face to be
clean as a coral, smooth as a violin.
You tried to scrub earth and

tobacco from your body
but earth and tobacco still stained
your skirts.

Lavabas as mans e a cara para estar
limpa como un coral, suave como un violín.
Esforzábaste por borrar a terra e o

tabaco do teu corpo

pero levabas manchas de terra e de tabaco
na saia.



The doctor cured me

but the lovesick animal scampered off on all four legs.

O médico curoume

pero o animal namorado corría coas catro pernas.



The hands of the dew were singing hip-hop.

As mans do orballo cantaban hip hop.


The doctor said it would be painful for me when my breasts grew.

O médico dixo que eu sentiría moitísima dor cando me medrasen as tetas.


You spoke to the doctor without using words.

You had no language.
History had sliced

the beauty of your lips
with a knife from inside.

Your world was not visible on maps.

Your entrails were totally secondary / invisible /.

Falabas co médico sen usar palabras.

Non tiñas idioma.

A Historia cortou

cun coitelo interior

a beleza dos teus beizos.

O teu mundo non existía nos mapas.

As túas entrañas eran totalmente secundarias /invisibles/.



You washed clothes of blue in the river,

in winter, in silence.

I watched you and discovered the beauty of intimacy.
You seemed a fairy without a plow,

a woman free, clean, expulsed.

There were black flowers in your exile,

and your hands were rough

with chilblains.

You wept as if Madeleine Peyroux herself

sang jazz in the streets of Lugo.

Lavabas a roupa azul no río,

no inverno, en silencio.

Eu mirábate e descubría a beleza da intimidade.
Parecías unha fada sen arado,

unha muller libre, limpa, expulsada.

Había flores negras no teu exilio,

e as túas mans enchíanse

de sabañóns.

Chorabas como se Madeleine Peyroux

cantase jazz nunha rúa de Lugo.



You gave birth to me.



Excerpted from Camouflage by Lupe Gómez, published by Circumference Books. Copyright © 2017 by Lupe Gómez. Translation © 2019 by Erín Moure. By arrangement with the publisher.

Published Mar 15, 2019   Copyright 2019 Lupe Gómez

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