Work Left Unfinished

Andrew Wyeth, Cranberries (1966), Collotype, 45.7 x 30.5 cm

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.

Colombian poet Ximena Gómez’s books include Habitación con moscas (2016), Último día / Last Day (2019), and Cuando llegue la sequía (2021). She is the Spanish translator of Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming, George Franklin’s Among the Ruins / Entre las ruinas, and contributing translator to Hyam Plutzik’s 32 Poems / 32 Poemas.

George Franklin translated, along with the author, Ximena Gómez’s Último día / Last Day. He is also the author of four poetry collections, and a new book of his poems, Remote Cities, is forthcoming in 2022 from Sheila-Na-Gig Editions. He practices law in Miami and teaches in Florida prisons.