Song of Death

by Gabriela Mistral

English version by Ursula K. LeGuin
Original Language Spanish

Old Woman Census-taker,
Death the Trickster,
when you're going along,
don't you meet my baby.

Sniffing at newborns,
smelling for the milk,
find salt, find cornmeal,
don't find my milk.

Anti-Mother of the world,
People-Collector --
on the beaches and byways,
don't meet that child.

The name he was baptized,
that flower he grows with,
forget it, Rememberer.
Lose it, Death.

Let wind and salt and sand
drive you crazy, mix you up
so you can't tell
East from West,

or mother from child,
like fish in the sea.
And on the day, at the hour,
find only me.

-- from Selected Poems of Gabriela Mistral, Translated by Ursula K. LeGuin

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Song of Death