“If you didn’t exist…”

La Librería Dragona, Cusco

I have been in Cusco for a month now, and have started working full-time for a charity called LAFF (Latin American Foundation for the Future).

So far the only library I’ve found is a bookshop, La Dragona – recently opened by a former LAFF volunteer, Rocio Diaz – where you can also get a subscription to take out books. They also run lots of events, like a poetry and music event for International Women’s Day, and reading groups. La Biblioteca Municipal is just around the corner, but is having refurbishment work done at the moment.


I decided to stand somewhere between the two when handing out the poem ‘Rescate’ by Elvira Sastre from her book Baluarte (Valparaíso, 2014), and my translation, ‘Rescue’. Elvira is a poet and translator from Segovia, who also performs her poetry alongside musicians.

Strangely, being so close to the centre of Cusco, I didn’t see many tourists. There seemed to be lots of mothers with children on their way somewhere. I met Andy (a Peruvian with an English-sounding name) who works in a local coffee shop. He likes poetry but prefers writing it to reading it. But when I walked back past the shop I caught him reading this one intently!




Si no existieras tú,
si fueras, no sé,
un tirabuzón trenzado,
una dicotomía entre tu alma y tu cuerpo,
ganas que se quedan en ganas.
Si fueras, cómo decirlo,
alguien que se ajusta a los límites de los días,
una sospecha,
un intento.

Si no existieras tú,
si fueras otra cosa
con tu misma cara, voz y manos,
pero otra cosa,
en mi fin y en tu cabo,
te atravesaría entera,
te rompería las barreras,
te cruzaría de norte a sur pisando tu brújula
como el náufrago que traspasa los bosques para llegar al mar
y te habitaría con mis barcos
en la proa de tu esencia
sin ningún tipo de duda
ni tiempo
el rescate.





If you didn’t exist,
if you were, I don’t know,
a plaited curl,
a dichotomy between your soul and your body,
better than the remnants of wishes.
If you were, how to say it,
someone who fits within the limits of days,
a suspicion,
an intent.

If you didn’t exist,
if you were something else
with your same face, voice and hands,
but something else,
when my all is said and yours is done,
I would pierce right through you,
I would break your barriers,
I would cross you from north to south trampling on your compass
like the castaway who crosses forests to reach the sea,
and I would inhabit you with my boats
in the prow of your essence
without doubt
of the imminent

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