Alfonsina Storni

Roxana as Alfonsina Storni — Photograph- Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

VOY A DORMIR ( Alfonsina Storni , May 29, 1892 — October 25, 1938)

Dientes de flores, cofia de rocío,

manos de hierbas, tú, nodriza fina,

tenme prestas las sábanas terrosas

y el edredón de musgos escardados.

Voy a dormir, nodriza mía, acuéstame.

Ponme una lámpara a la cabecera;

una constelación; la que te guste;

todas son buenas; bájala un poquito.

Déjame sola: oyes romper los brotes…

te acuna un pie celeste desde arriba

y un pájaro te traza unos compases

para que olvides… Gracias. Ah, un encargo:

si él llama nuevamente por teléfono

le dices que no insista, que he salido…

Teeth of flowers, hairnet of dew, hands of herbs, you, perfect wet nurse, prepare the earthly sheets for me and the down quilt of weeded moss I am going to sleep, my nurse, put me to bed. Set a lamp at my headboard; a constellation; whatever you like; all are good: lower it a bit. Leave me alone: you hear the buds breaking through . . a celestial foot rocks you from above and a bird traces a pattern for you so you’ll forget . . . Thank you. Oh, one request: if he telephones again tell him not to keep trying for I have left . . .

Alfonsina Storni

A year and a half after her friend Quiroga committed suicide in 1937, and haunted by solitude and breast cancer, Storni sent her last poem, Voy a dormir (“I’m going to sleep”) to La Nación newspaper in October 1938. Around 1:00 AM on Tuesday the 25th, Alfonsina left her room and headed towards the sea at La Perla beach in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Later that morning two workers found her body washed up on the beach. Although her biographers hold that she jumped into the water from a breakwater, popular legend is that she slowly walked out to sea until she drowned.

Her obituary, published in La Nación on October 26, 1938 included the above poem that some think was dedicated to her only son, Alejandro who was 26 years old.

When I contacted Argentine model Roxana via email from Vancouver she indicated that she would pose for Nora Patrich and for me. She suggested we do something on modernist poet (Swiss born) Alfonsina Storni.
Because Storni had committed suicide by walking into the sea in Mar del Plata I saw a parallel with Hamlet’s Ophelia. We took the picture in Nora Patrich’s empty swimming pool (she was cleaning it). A nearby and very large clump of calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica) fit right in with our photograph.

Link to: Alfonsina Storni


Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.