Las Aguas — Mario Benedetti

Aug 14, 2019 · 3 min read
Katheryn — Photograph — Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

While going to get my Canadian residency papers at the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City in 1974, a woman, Dorothy Barkley told me, “I am from Vancouver. You will like it. It is all sea, water and bridges.” When we arrived at friend’s house in Seattle in our VW Beetle, we were told, “Vancouver? It rains 365 days of the year there!”

And so water has been part of our life since 1975. More so for our Lillooet, BC daughter Ale whose garden suffers under frequent droughts.

When my Buenos Aires family asks me about Vancouver I always tell them, “We have air, space and water, a premium anywhere else.”

In our Mexico City in the rainy season we always thought that the rain cleared the air. This was not so. The hydrogen sulphide in the air from diesel buses, cars and nearby refineries would mix with the water to form sulphurous acid. Some of it would finally fall as sulphuric acid. We had to wax our car twice a year to prevent the paint from being damaged. We imagined what all pollution did to our lungs.

In my Mexico City darkroom I had to mix a Kodak wetting agent so that film would dry without stains. In Vancouver, while I had my darkroom, negatives dried clean without any Kodak Photoflo.

Both my Rosemary and I treasure our tub baths no matter what squeaky clean Canadians tell us about it being a dirty habit. I point out that Argentine writer Jorge Luís Borges used his tub baths to think his poems and short stories through.

Holy water in Spanish is “agua bendita” — more so in our Vancouver.

Las Aguas — Mario Benedetti

Dicen que el agua será imprescindible

mucho más necesaria que el petróleo

los imperios de siempre por lo tanto

nos robarán el agua a borbotones

los regalos de boda serán grifos

agua darán los lauros de poesía

el nobel brindará una catarata

y en la bolsa cotizarán las lluvias

los jubilados cobrarán goteras

los millonarios dueños del diluvio

venderán lágrimas al por mayor

una capital se medirá por litros

cada empresa tendrá su remolino

su laguna prohibida a los foráneos

su museo de lodos prestigiosos

sus postales de nieve y de rocío

y nosotros los pálidos sedientos

con la lengua reseca brindaremos

con el agua on the rocks.

Waters — Mario Benedetti (my translation)

They say that water will be essential

much more than oil

the empires of always thus

stole water from us in gushes

wedding presents will be water taps

water will be celebrated in poetry

a nobel will toast to a rapid

and rain will be valued in stock exchanges

retirees will collect leaks

millionaires owners of the deluge

will sell tears wholesale

a capital will be measured by litres

every business will have its whirlpool

its lake prohibited to foreigners

a museum of prestigious mud

postcards of snow and dew

and we the pale thirsty

with our dry tongue will toast

with water “on the rocks”.

I si Dios fuera mujer — What if God were a woman — Mario Benedetti

Link to: Las Aguas — Mario Benedetti

Latin American Literature

Latin American & Spanish Literature in any language


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Into Bunny Watson. I am a Vancouver-based magazine photographer/writer. I have a popular daily blog which can be found at:

Latin American Literature

Latin American & Spanish Literature in any language

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