Gabriela Mistral

Child Left Alone

When I heard the crying, I stopped on the hill
and approached the door of the hut by the road.
A soft-eyed child was watching me from his bed,
and a profound tenderness intoxicated me like wine.

The mother had been delayed, bent deep amid the fallow;
the child, on awakening, sought her pink nipple
and burst into tears… I hugged him to my breast,
and a lullaby, tremulous, rose up within me.

Through the open window the moon looked down on us.
The child was sleeping now, and the song bathed,
like another light, my breast made rich.

And when the woman, hesitant, opened the door,
she must have seen on my face such great joy
that she let the child sleep on in my arms.

— translated from the Spanish by Thomas P. Feeny