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Poetry

[My mother works in a cannery]

By Luisa Castro
Translated from Galician by Laura Cesarco Eglin
Love is a work of art in a can.

A mother-daughter conversation and a child's search for her origins lead from the grandiose to the dreary in this poem by Luisa Castro.

My mother works in a cannery.
One day my mother said to me:
love is a canned sardine. Do you know how
canned food
is prepared?
One day my mother said to me: love is a work of art
in a can.

My dear,
Do you know where you come from? You come
from a mussel nursery—
canned. Behind the cannery, where the shells
rot

along with the fish boxes. An impossible stench, a dead-end blue.
That’s where you come from.

Ah! I said, so I’m the daughter of the sea.

No.
You’re the daughter of a day off.

Ah! I said,
I’m the daughter of snack time.

Yes, in the back, among the dead-end things.

Baleas e baleas © Luisa Castro. English Translation © 2021 Laura Cesarco Eglin.

English Galician

A mother-daughter conversation and a child's search for her origins lead from the grandiose to the dreary in this poem by Luisa Castro.

My mother works in a cannery.
One day my mother said to me:
love is a canned sardine. Do you know how
canned food
is prepared?
One day my mother said to me: love is a work of art
in a can.

My dear,
Do you know where you come from? You come
from a mussel nursery—
canned. Behind the cannery, where the shells
rot

along with the fish boxes. An impossible stench, a dead-end blue.
That’s where you come from.

Ah! I said, so I’m the daughter of the sea.

No.
You’re the daughter of a day off.

Ah! I said,
I’m the daughter of snack time.

Yes, in the back, among the dead-end things.

Baleas e baleas © Luisa Castro. English Translation © 2021 Laura Cesarco Eglin.

Miña nai traballa nunha fábrica de conservas

Miña nai traballa nunha fábrica de conservas.
Un día miña nai díxome:
o amor é unha sardiña en lata. ¿Ti sabes
cómo se preparan as conservas
en lata?
Un día miña nai díxome: o amor é unha obra de arte
en lata.
Filla,
¿sabes de onde vés? Vés
dun viveiro de mexillóns
en lata. Detrás da fábrica, onde podrecen
as cunchas
e as caixas de peixe. Un fedor imposible, un azul
que non vale. De alí vés.

Ah! Dixen eu, enton, son a filla do mar.

Non.
Eres a filla dun día de descanso.

Ah! Dixen eu,
son a filla da hora do bocadillo.

Sí, detráis, entre as cousas que non valen.