Amparo Osorio. Born in Bogotá. Her books of poetry include: Huracanes de sueños (1983-1984), Gota ebria (Ediciones Embalaje, 1987), Territorio de máscaras (Hojas Sueltas, 1990), Migración de la ceniza (Editorial Magisterio, 1998) Antología esencial (Colección Los Conjurados, 2001), and Memoria absuelta (Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 2004). Her poetry has been translated into English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Hungarian and Russian. She is the editorial coordinator for the journal Común Presencia. She also authored the anthology La casa leída (Común Presencia Editores, 1996) and Geometría iluminada, a report with Omar Rayo (Ediciones Embalaje, 2001). Her book Territorio de máscaras received an Honorable Mention in Mexico’s Plural contest in 1989. She also received a Colcultura scholarship for literary creativity in 1994 for her book Migración de la ceniza.


English translation: Luis Rafael Gálvez


Evoking Prince Hamlet

To die, to dream, to let oneself go
astray in the dream
without ever awakening.

To die with a rose in your mouth.
Congregated petals
over the light skin…
already defeated,
tired of being
skin and its wound.
Strangely rose,
strangely thorn.
Indecipherable cosmos…
To leave
to die
to let oneself go
without ever saying goodbye.



anoint my skin
wash my eyes.

My night opens
for you.

My wandering.
This endless erring
haunts me.

What voices
from what skies
do you bring to me?

What god
that I don't hear?


As an exile
in the place on never,
someone naked will inhabit the star.
It will recline his shadow every night.

Every night in the vigil
it will inquire about death
while distant gods
trace again untranslatable lines.

As in this intimate exile
here or there
we will fearfully pulse the grass
and sadness will walk
in the blood
like a homeland we cannot find.


The body is a hard dream between the hands.
Giovanni Quessep

One is alone in the search
One is naked and fragil and foreign
Barely this body
Sweet ally
Holder of dreams
Accompanying us always
navigating the mirror of the night
and the days' motionless wind.


One attempts a prayer
one implores a heaven
one pretends
to return to the origin
A useless thirst!

Perhaps the stars and I
the same shadow.


And silence grows on me.
I hear it passing by barefoot
from one star to another
-the eyes of the absent ones-
They want to cry with me.

Long exodus night:
Do you know, do you
the last wish of the dead?


No one measured the moons of my fear.
But I sleep with them
in this room populated
by shadows and profiles.

I happens however we already know each other.
We complement the phantom
that frightens these walls. 


We believed in the spaces of light:
mutant brightness.

But time
showed us the faces in the shadow.

Beautiful horror!
where every instant we are saved.


It was not a tree.  You know it.
It was only my dream growing.
It had scattered nests, undulating branches
that touched the stars at night.

I never saw him cry. He looked at the sky
and let it go like a river.

He was forever flying
beyond any wind.

His steps went further than looking at my window.
He nested in my sheets
and cuddled my breast

His voices arrived
at times tired, at times thirsty
as if an inventory of unspoken secrets
were waiting in his moons.

He was not a tree
but he shaked
evoquing perhaps the torn-down angel
that nested in my dreams.

As if before all signs
he knew defeat
and the footprint of death on the road
he left one day.

My voice broke his music
his eyes hesitated.
Words trembled in my lips

In order not to lose him
my shadow became a bird.


My house
a dead vessel
in the veins


You know that my night
is my travelling word
toward the light

Maybe that's why
no one reads my compass.

But do not be mistaken
Not everything is sad
this side of the wall.



past and future

About her birth
About her death

Inclined to more doubt
more abyss
more immensity

in the imprecise
darkness of the years

the shadow flaps its wings.


I will walk again
I will build upon the ruins of my house
and the ruins of my heart.
I will dress up with the wings and suns
of the presences I love.

I will find in other lips
water for my thirst

In other eyes
I will expand the roads.

Signed by the wind
defying spells
I will wear my lightning once again.



May we reach everything
In abandon!

For her, my Esperanza, the magician of my heart.


For the ritual of forgetfulness
I need silence, then
someone to barely touch the crystal.

Let the bells moan in the rain
as if they were ghosts

Let the corteges pass
-I speak of presences-
just as an equinox
and witness in the unlimited emptiness
a suicide of violets.

let forgetfulness come
without daring to beg for memories.


Nothing was yours.

You imagined only a house and the moon.
The vacillating fire of the flame.
The night, tall messenger,
Among the solitude of your stars.

The perfect, faithful shadow dictating
the constellations’ path
Water’s music…

Now you know.
The hands pale.
You look at time in your body
time in the rivers,
time in the ruins.

It would suffice that you would want to sleep
Without pronouncing the last syllable.
That you would only wish
to no longer see and to unfold your arms

That alone would be enough…
But you don’t know how.


Time without time:
My heart is blank.
In a motionless mirror

my hands were water.
In the memory of the air

my feet were wings.

One hand erases me
another draws an undecipherable echo
the premonitory image?
The dark violets?


To E.M. Cioran,
for that unrepeatable rainy afternoon

In the memory you search for a house
to hide your loneliness.
The wind opens the door
and you appear.
A dizzy spell
or incessant pain
is about to show you
the desolation of the waters.
And you would like
a bit of light left
for the small bird
that trembles, defeated.

You return
once more to the wound
of revelations.
There is nothing that can stop the fear.


One second in the escape is enough
when the bodies collide
and the waiting runs away
to look at the unthought-of

true face

Translated by Scott Bailey and Rebecca Morgan

The wind carves faces
and you watching the grass
are ignorant of the signs
of all eternity
Outside of you
No roots are possible
How can I name you
without death growing?

Places that man engenders as his
were never mine. Today I keep calling
and this strange voice
speaks of faces, rivers and paths.
—Always a return—
and rain is falling through my eyes.
The street never spoke of my presence
nor did the mornings remember my absence.
What is the name of the wind
that found me repeating another name?
What other thing would I have been
but this shadow
matter in which I travel—and I vanish—
You are darkening the night and the place of my shadow
is all that remains!


Tiger life over our lives
with which net will I capture you?
I love you, hostile bird.
Andree Chedid

For years and years and years
it was hard to wake up on this earth
marked by fear
while the dead and the eagles curled up
under the moon.
It has always been difficult to learn
the torture
of not finding eyes in the eyes
and agreeing that the bread and the word
were a long chill.
For years and years
identity was un-drawing itself
among ancient voices.
Today everything in you charms us.
Even you, beautiful and darkest death.


anoints my skin
washes my eyes.
My night opens itself
for you.
My roaming.
My infinite straying
pursues me.
What voices from what heavens
do you bring me?
What god
that I don’t hear?


I hang out the dawn
and the hours don’t know it.
The boy who was my heart
lights other terrors.
Further away than lightening
Who spoke of calmness?
I hang out the dawn
The great unknown!
Perhaps time
will be my biggest shadow.
Maybe my eternally lost steps
will look for me in stray cities
and all over the earth
they’ll be afraid of finding me.
Maybe my eye and his astonishment
will sneak off.
The panic of finding each other
—because there’s no night for the blind star
nor a memory that helps
without being awake under the moon—
Fevered soul who then
saw the dignity of a dead person
passing with an ineffable face.
I hang out the dawn
and I mark myself with poppies.
As if I were a god
who in confusion
searches for his pain in me,
silence passes.
The slow rain falls.

Night and I
will have to get together
for the party of the eclipse.

Night and I
together in the broken mirror,
as if the same god
measured us in his nothingness.

© Poemas de Amparo Osorio