There’s No Time to Start from the Beginning…

By Fina García Marruz
Translated by Katherine M. Hedeen

Long live my body dark and restless

There’s no time to start from the beginning, everything

in order, shamelessly, in the elemental, candid blue.

There’s no possible lucidity, the circle’s closed off

its horizon where humble paradises swaggered.

There’s no time now to be, in some way, distinguished

like a donkey, a grapevine, and to the same end

there’s no time to ignore it all completely.

And now is the time for smiling like fools

watching child’s play and youth’s fury,

and thinking it’s understood, content with the small birds

that storm, legs unmoving, in leaps, two by two.

Still future will always shine ancient before diminutive present,

before daily possession, blinding privilege.

There’s no time now for innocence and individual face.

Misfortune corrupting us, changes our names on a whim.

And while we begin to look like everyone in life and death,

in sin and desire, in undoing and night,

unnerved we enter what’s uniform, and then,

like a wild promise, we feel in our shoulders

the unmerited investiture of what’s living, what’s dark.


Fina García Marruz (Havana, 1923) is a poet, essayist and literary critic. She received her doctorate in Social Sciences from the University of Havana. She was a member of the group of poets who edited the literary journals Clavileño (1942-1953) and Orígenes (1944-1956). From 1962 to 1987, she was a researcher at the National Library at the Center for Studies on José Martí. Her poetry has received high honors in the Spanish-speaking world, including Cuba’s National Literature Prize, Chile’s Pablo Neruda Prize, and Spain’s Reina Sofía Prize for Spanish American poetry, among many others. She is considered to be Cuba’s greatest living poet.

Katherine M. Hedeen is a specialist in Latin American poetry and has both extensively written on and translated contemporary authors from the region. Her book-length translations include published collections by Rodolfo Alonso, Juan Bañuelos, Juan Calzadilla, Marco Antonio Campos, Luis García Montero, Juan Gelman, Fayad Jamís, Hugo Mujica, José Emilio Pacheco, Víctor Rodríguez Núñez, and Ida Vitale. She is an associate editor of Earthwork’s Latin American Poetry in Translation Series for Salt Publishing and an acquisitions editor for Arc Publications. She is the recipient of a 2009 and a 2015 National Endowment for the Arts Translation Project Grant. She resides in Ohio where she is Professor of Spanish at Kenyon College.