Guillermo Rebollo-Gil translates Cindy Jiménez-Vera

End times

Seventeen years ago,
I was twenty-one,
Christ did not come,
cellphones got smaller,
I was saying yes to a boy
I never loved,
and I learned a third language
that came easier to me
than my mother tongue.
Why didn’t Christ come?
He would have loved
my spaghettis.

Los últimos tiempos

Hace diecisiete años, 
yo tenía veintiuno,
Cristo no vino,
encogieron los celulares,
yo le daba el sí a un novio
que nunca quise,
y aprendí un tercer idioma
más fácil de hablar
que mi lengua materna.
¿Por qué Cristo no vino?
Le hubiesen encantado
mis espaguetis. 



On this breezeless morning
from the passenger seat
I wanted to cover myself in 
the shade of trees but the sun was merciless
there were no leaves on branches
not even sneakers hanging from the wires.


Quise cubrirme
con la sombra de los árboles
desde el asiento del pasajero
esta mañana sin viento
pero el sol no era piadoso
no había hojas en las ramas
ni siquiera tenis en los postes.  



Every time I board a plane
I think I’m going to die.
So I call my husband—
who is all the family
I have left—
ask him to have me cremated,
my ashes put in an urn
and buried in my mother’s grave.
She could never stand
a dirty house.


Cada vez que abordo un avión
creo que voy a morirme. 
Por eso llamo a mi marido
—quien es la única familia
que me queda—
le pido que me creme
y entierre mis cenizas
dentro de una urna
en la tumba de mi madre.
A ella nunca le gustó
tener la casa sucia. 


On the other side of the window

The leaves falling to the ground
pushed by tropical storm winds
waited three seasons
to become nourishment for ants.
Soon the flock will come,
that bridal flight
in which winged ants take part
when they abandon their colonies in mass.

Al otro lado de la ventana

Las hojas que caen a la tierra
impulsadas por los vientos
de tormenta tropical
esperaron tres estaciones
para ser el alimento de las hormigas.
Pronto llegará la revoada,
ese vuelo nupcial en el que participan
las hormigas con alas
cuando abandonan sus colonias en masa.



Take on an empty stomach.
Repeat until hunger
does not matter,
nor horror nor misery.


Tómese en ayuno.
Repetir hasta que
ya no importe el hambre,
el horror o la miseria.


Translator’s Note:

In a brief introduction to a small sample of her poetry for children published in Revista Cruce a few years ago, Cindy Jiménez-Vera writes: “Now that I think about it, to write poems for the sons and daughters of my poet friends is a way to tell the story of a generation of poets who wrote and lived together. A generation that struggled to sustain a country, that sowed hope for this country in the form of poems and children.” In my reading, her poems teach our youngest—and our oldest—readers about dignity in the face of precarity, injustice, colonialism. Though these words do not appear in most of her poems, I submit to you, dear reader, that these three words together create the context for Cindy’s work, and in which Cindy—as a poet, editor, librarian and educator—works. For these words have come to define our present moment in Puerto Rico with brute, unrelenting force. Thus, in translating the present selection I was mostly concerned with signaling toward the bustle of dignity just below the surface of her seemingly cool, and graceful poetics. Hers, I think, is a poetics of restraint. Of showing restraint. But just barely, as it all gets to be a little too much at times. In her poems, Cindy at once chronicles these ‘hard times’ and offers us brief, heartening glimpses of a time to come.


Cindy Jiménez-Vera (San Sebastian del Pepino, 1978) is a poet, editor and librarian from Puerto Rico. She is the author of four full length poetry collections (all in Spanish), as well as a children’s book entitled El gran cheeseburger y otros poemas con dientes. Her poetry has been featured in periodicals and anthologies in the Caribbean and Latin America. As an editor, she curated the small independent press Ediciones Aguadulce. A bilingual chapbook of her selected poems, translated by Guillermo Rebollo Gil, was published by Aguadulce in 2018, under the title I’ll trade you this island/te cambio esta isla.

Guillermo Rebollo Gil (San Juan, 1979) is a poet, sociologist and translator. His poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Fence, Feed, Mandorla, Spry, Pittsburgh Poetry Journal, Trampset, FreezeRay, Trampoline and Anti-Heroin Chic. His book-length essay Writing Puerto Rico: Our Decolonial Moment (2018), a careful consideration of the potentialities of radical thought and action in contemporary Puerto Rico, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in their New Caribbean Studies Series. He has translated the poetry of Cindy Jimenez Vera and Alex Maldonado Lizardi. He belongs to/with Lucas Imar and Ariadna Michelle. Happily so.