Yerma Means Barren in Spanish

A poet told me today
the barren space is shaped like God.

I have never found God,
so maybe He is right behind me,

between the breaths of air I just parted
with my bullish striding,

or in the empty womb,
not so much a space as a clench

of despair waiting to give birth
to miracles never realized.

*Yerma was the first of Federico Garcia Lorca’s three “rural tragedies,” plays he wrote in the 1930s that depicted the brutality of rural Spanish society, its gender roles and honor codes, its religion (medieval Catholicism) and its strict sexual morality. The other two were Blood Wedding (Bodas de sangre) and The House of Bernarda Alba (La casa de Bernarda Alba). Lorca was executed by fascists in the Spanish Civil War for his liberal views, opposition to the Franco regime, and open bisexuality.

Lorca en Nueva York

Bitter winter mornings, in my head, shoulders and down my spine, my pain
is hewn in the shape of the cross. The cold pounds my hands and feet like nails.

Is that how it went for you, Poeta en Nueva York, self-exiled from sun-baked
Andalucia, hard against the frigid East River wind? Did you know in your bones

there would be no paradise, no loves that bloom and die? Where are the bones,
do they dance beneath the orange trees, do they sing Gypsy ballads to the moon?

Did your heart pound like the hooves of the pony the night of the Blood Wedding?
Did you have to die for love, or did love die for you, too heavy a cross to bear?