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The White Breast, the Black Breast

My mother had a white breast and a black breast.
Upon waking she would take the white breast in her hand
and lifting it to my lips say: Drink, my child,
and I would drink a very sweet, thick white milk.
Later she would pinch the black nipple between her fingers
and putting it to my mouth repeat: Drink, my child,
and I would drink a dark and infinitely bitter milk.
My mother had a white breast and a black breast.
By day, cupping the white breast in her hand
like a dove, she would whisper: It’s the light of the world;
and at night, while sighing and squeezing
the black breast, she would exclaim: It’s darkness.
My mother had a white breast and a black breast.
Sometimes she would expose the white breast to the sun,
and while covering the black breast with her shirt
she would croon: This is the milk that soothes all hunger,
and her face would brighten with an immortal smile.
But my mouth would search again for the black breast
and with pious resignation she would take it in her hand
and put it to my lips saying: Drink, my child,
and I would drink avidly the milk that gives more hunger.     
My mother had a white breast and a black breast.

Translation of “El pecho blanco, el pecho negro.” Copyright the estate of Horacio Castillo. Translation copyright 2011 by Samuel Gray. All rights reserved.