Alfonsina Storni y Karla Báez: Buscamos Mujeres que tengan alas para volar / We seek Women with wings who just might fly


Today there takes place in Toronto a loud, serious and fun march of women – and their friends – from City Hall to Queen’s Park, the provincial legislature.  The march goes by the provocative name Slut Walk.  The first Slut Walk took place in April 2011 – and its destination was Toronto police headquarters – after remarks made by a police constable addressing female law students at a crime prevention forum at York University.  The officer said: “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”  By ‘victimized’ he meant ‘raped’.  The comment caused a furor in a city that wishes to see itself as progressive.  It seemed the ‘same-old same-old’ sexist bullshit was alive and well.  Feminism in Canada has often slipped under the popular radar in the past twenty five years – one generation – and advertisement images of women’s bodies – sometimes without heads – are used to sell everything.  Everybody – and he’s often male – has got a hard opinion or a strict belief about what’s acceptable and what’s “asking for  it” (“it” meaning rape) when it comes to what a woman ought to wear and how/when/why she’s walking down the street.

Like the Take Back the Night marches of the 1970s and 1980s – organized by women angered that police kept telling them to “stay inside at night so you’ll be safe” – the Slut Walk brings those same fundamental concerns into the 21st century.  Though there is debate and reasoned opposition among women about the choice of name – Slut Walk – slut being a thorny word that can draw blood and may or may not be able to be “reclaimed” (queer, bitch, and nigger are three other examples) – there is also plenty of chutzpah and a healthy “Fuck you!” attitude in that name, too.  Slut Walks have been organized in Argentina, India and South Africa, as well.

A placard seen at the first Slut Walk captures with simple intelligence one of the march’s aims:

“No means No, Yes means Yes – wherever we go, however we dress.”


We feature Spanish-language poems by two female poets, one from 1930s Argentina, the other from 21st-century México.  The first poet, Alfonsina Storni, writes in proto-feminist fashion about the vain possessiveness of men, also about their hypocrisy (the “experienced” man wants a “pure” woman).  Storni’s poem, “You want me white”, is a kind of spiritual descendant of Mexican nun Juana Inés de la Cruz’s 17-quatrain poem which begins with the phrase: “Hombres necios que acusáis a la mujer sin razón…”.

The second poet, Karla Báez, is full of passionate idealism – and energy for Change.


*     *     *     *     *

Alfonsina Storni  (poetisa argentina / Argentinian poet, 1892-1938)

Hombre Pequeñito



Hombre pequeñito, hombre pequeñito,

suelta a tu canario que quiere volar.

Yo soy el canario, hombre pequeñito,

déjame saltar.


Estuve en tu jaula, hombre pequeñito,

hombre pequeñito que jaula me das.

Digo pequeñito porque no me entiendes,

ni me entenderás.


Tampoco te entiendo, pero mientras tanto,

ábreme la jaula que quiero escapar.

Hombre pequeñito, te amé media hora,

no me pidas más.




Little wee man



Little wee man, little wee man,

Release your canary that wants to fly.

I’m that canary, you little wee man,

Let me jump.


I was in your cage, little wee man,

Little wee man who incarcerates me.

I call you “wee little” because you

don’t understand me – nor will you, ever.


Nor do I understand you…but in the meantime,

Open the cage – I want to escape.

Little wee man, I loved you a mere hour,

Ask of me no more.




Tú me quieres blanca



Tú me quieres alba,

Me quieres de espumas,

Me quieres de nácar.

Que sea azucena

Sobre todas, casta.

De perfume tenue.

Corola cerrada

Ni un rayo de luna

Filtrado me haya.

Ni una margarita

Se diga mi hermana.

Tú me quieres nívea,

Tú me quieres blanca,

Tú me quieres alba.


Tú que hubiste todas

Las copas a mano,

De frutos y mieles

Los labios morados.

Tú que en el banquete

Cubierto de pámpanos

Dejaste las carnes

Festejando a Baco.

Tú que en los jardines

Negros del Engaño

Vestido de rojo

Corriste al Estrago.

Tú que el esqueleto

Conservas intacto

No sé todavía

Por cuáles Milagros.


Me pretendes blanca

(Dios te lo perdone),

Me pretendes casta

(Dios te lo perdone),

¡Me pretendes alba!


Huye hacia los bosques,

Vete a la montaña;

Límpiate la boca;

Vive en las cabañas;

Toca con las manos

La tierra mojada;

Alimenta el cuerpo

Con raíz amarga;

Bebe de las rocas;

Duerme sobre escarcha;

Renueva tejidos

Con salitre y agua;

Habla con los pájaros

Y lévate al alba.

Y cuando las carnes

Te sean tornadas,

Y cuando hayas puesto

En ellas el alma

Que por las alcobas

Se quedó enredad…

entonces, buen hombre,

Preténdeme blanca,

Preténdeme nívea,

Preténdeme casta.




You want me white



You want me to be the dawn

You want me made of seaspray

Made of mother-of-pearl

That I be a lily

Chaste above all others

Of tenuous perfume

A blossom closed

That not even a moonbeam

Might have touched me

Nor a daisy

Call herself my sister

You want me like snow

You want me white

You want me to be the dawn


You who had all

The cups before you

Of fruit and honey

Lips dyed purple

You who in the banquet

Covered in grapevines

Let your flesh go

Celebrating Bacchus

You who in the dark

Gardens of Deceit

Dressed in red

Ran towards Destruction

You who maintain

Your bones intact

Only by some miracle

Of which I know not

You ask that I be white

(May God forgive you)

You ask that I be chaste

(May God forgive you)

You ask that I be the dawn!


Flee towards the forest

Go to the mountains

Clean your mouth

Live in a hut

Touch with your hands

The damp earth

Feed yourself

On bitter roots

Drink from the rocks

Sleep on the frosty ground

Clean your clothes

With saltpeter and water

Talk with the birds


And set sail at dawn

And when your flesh

Has returned to you

And when you have put

Into it the soul

That via bedrooms

Became twisted and tangled…

then, good man,

Ask that I be white

Ask that I be like snow

Ask that I be chaste.




Karla Báez  (nace/born 1977, México, D.F./ México City)

Llamada de Auxilio



Cruza la noche

un grito desgarrado,

…duele más el silencio,

ante la voz de la ira…

No me volverás a tocar,

ni con golpes ni palabras.

¿Duele verdad?   Lo sé,

yo también fui tu víctima.




A Call for Help



Crisscrossing the night,

A piercing cry.

Silence hurts more,

before the voice of rage…

You will not touch me again,

Neither with punches nor with words.

Does the truth hurt?  I know it;

I too was your victim.




Busco Mujeres



Busco Mujeres,

que sean sensibles ante la injusticia,

Busco Mujeres,

que luchen por sus ideales.

Busco Mujeres,

que se harten de las mentiras,

de los golpes, de la violencia.

Busco Mujeres

que no sean indiferentes

al dolor de la gente.

Busco Mujeres

que tengan alas para volar.




I seek Women



I seek Women,

who can be aware of injustice,

I seek Women,

who can struggle for their ideals.

I seek Women,

who are fed up with all the lies,

the blows – the violence.

I seek Women

who cannot be indifferent

to people suffering.

I seek Women

who might have wings – women who will fly.




Traducción del español al inglés / Translations from Spanish into English

(“Little wee man”, “A Cry for Help”, “I seek Women”):   Alexander Best