Poems for staying at home (Day 1)




As most of us are staying at home far more than we usually do, I thought I might post a series of poems — or rather, translations of poems — regarding houses. Most of these will be from my anthology The Other Tiger (Seren, 2016), but — who knows? — some might be from other places.

Today’s poem is by the Ecuadorian poet Siomara España, and is titled ‘The Empty House’. The translation is followed by the original Spanish.


The Empty House

Invite no one
into our house,
for they will notice
the doors, walls, staircase
and windows,
they will see the moths
in the corners,
the rusty locks,
the blind, ruined lamps.
Don’t bring anyone to our house
for they will only be distressed
by your table,
your bed, the tablecloth,
the furniture, laugh pityingly
at the cups, pretend to
be nostalgic for my name,
make fun, what is more, of our hammock.
Don’t bring anyone to our house any more
for they will write you songs,
excite your soul,
whisper mischievously,
plant a flower at your window.

That’s why – I beg you – you must
not bring people to our house,
for they will turn pink,
greenish, reddish, bluish,
on discovering broken walls
and withered plants.
They will want to sweep out the corners
they will want to open our blinds
and find, tucked away among my books
the depraved excuses they were searching for.

Don’t bring anyone to our house any more,
for they will discover our absurdities,
will carry you off to faraway beaches
tell you tales of shipwrecks,
drag you from our house.

(Translated by Richard Gwyn)


La casa vacía

No invites a nadie
a nuestra casa,
pues repararán en
puertas, paredes, escaleras
y ventanas,
mirarán la polilla en
los rincones,
los cerrojos oxidados,
las lámparas ciegas, arruinadas.
No traigas a nadie a nuestra casa
pues no tendrán más
que angustia de tu mesa,
de tu cama, del mantel,
del mobiliario se reirán
de pena por las tazas, fingirán
nostalgia de mi nombre,
y reirán también de nuestra hamaca.
No traigas más gente a nuestra casa
pues te escribirán canciones,
te entusiasmarán el alma,
te susurrarán traviesos,
sembrarán una flor en tu ventana.

Por eso no debes, te lo ruego,
traer más gente a nuestra casa
pues se pondrán rosados,
verdosos, rojizos o azulados,
al descubrir paredes rotas
las plantas marchitadas.
Querrán barrer en los rincones
querrán abrir nuestras persianas
y encontrarán seguro entre mis libros
las excusas perversas que buscaban.

No traigas más nadie a nuestra casa,
así descubrirán nuestros absurdos
te llevarán lejos a otras playas
te contarán historias de naufragios
te sacarán a rastras de esta casa.


Siomara España was born in Manabí, Ecuador, in 1976. She is a poet and professor at Guayaquil University; cultural editor of the newspaper El Emigrante and departmental editor of the Casa de la Cultura, Guayaquil. Her publications include: Concupiscencia, Alivio demente, De cara al fuego, Contraluz and Jardines en el aire. She has been included in several international anthologies, including Tapestry of the Sun: an anthology of Ecuadorian poetry (San Francisco: Coimbra, 2010).

6 Comments on “Poems for staying at home (Day 1)

      • Actually, seeing the picture helped me upon rereading this time. I first did not think it was an abandoned house.
        I don’t understand the use or meaning of colors – “pink, red, bluish..” Thrilled that you answered me!


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