Work Left Unfinished
When I pushed the door
there was no one in the room.
In the background, an open window
and a disquieting afternoon light
falling obliquely on the unplastered wall.
At the front, on a plank table,
someone had left two metal buckets.
One filled with garlic, radishes, and onions,
another full of half-dried leaves and roses.
There was no one in the rest of the house.
The day before, at dawn, soldiers came in.
And the woman with red cheeks
who’d arrive at seven, humming –
no one has ever seen her again.
Translation from the Spanish
Author’s note: I wrote this poem after seeing a reproduction of Andrew Wyeth’s Cranberries. I thought about what it would be like if the painting came from Colombia—where there are no cranberries and where a deserted house can mean something entirely different from what it means here.