Features, Poems

Eduardo C. Corral: “Se Me Olividó Otra Vez”

Eduardo C. Corral

This month we feature Eduardo Corral’s “Se Me Olividó Otra Vez” from the Spring-Summer 2006 (v1.n1) issue of Poetry Northwest. Of his poem the author writes, “a few years ago I came across this interesting etymology for “Villanelle”: a French word derived from the Italian word “villanella,” which is believed to derive from the Latin words “villa” (farm) and “villano” (farmhand). The word “farmhand” reminded me of two elegiac lines from one of my notebooks: “I sit in bed, from the linen your scent still rises” and “You’re asleep inside your old guitar”– lines uttered by a Mexican field laborer missing his Beloved. I began work on a traditional villanelle but the form was not quite right for the poem I had in mind. The tercet stanzas were too large of a room for my speaker: I wanted something smaller, more intimate. I was about to give up on the form but then I reread Donald Justice’s altered villanelle “Variations for Two Pianos.” Justice’s shorter form (single lines and couplets totaling fifteen lines) was a perfect fit for the poem. The single lines visually illuminate the loneliness of the speaker, and the couplets suggest a narrow room haunted by a past that simultaneously comforts and suffocates. I plotted out the form of Justice’s villanelle on a piece of paper and plugged in lines. I finished the poem in less than two days.”

Se Me Olividó Otra Vez

I sit in bed, from the linen your scent still rises.
You’re asleep inside your old guitar.

A mariachi suit draped on a chair, its copper buttons,
the eyes of jaguars stalking the night.

I sit in bed, from the linen your scent still rises.

Through a window a full moon brings to mind Borges,
there is such loneliness in that gold.

You’re asleep inside your old guitar.

Are your calloused heels scraping its curved wood or
are there mice scurrying in the walls?

I sit in bed, from the linen your scent still rises.

I flick on a lamp, yellow light strikes your guitar
like dirt thrown on a coffin.

You’re asleep inside your old guitar.
I sit in bed, from the linen your scent still rises.

I sit in bed, from the linen your scent still rises,
there is such loneliness in that gold.

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