from Mere Diary

By Mercedes Roffé

Translated by Lucina Schell





August 20



the cry

in those women

is even more silence




October 22



Admit that you’ve embroidered it


with gigantic stitches

like you were being chased

like the Brontë sisters


is that why

the house behind?

000000000000always the house

000000000000bursting in


000000000000pestering you?


so delicate the trees

a light wind bends them


so ominous and unerring

the birds’ flight





November 15



if there are trees like leaves


if there are people

like exclamation points


there must also be, surely



like radiant ochre





like golden bulging

transparent cumuli


galaxies, cosmos, ethers

like black carriages





December 17



by contrast here there is study


a time

to meditate and measure

the consequences


a reddened circle or

sort of

and another circle inside

and inside it another one

and another


only that static, eccentric needle

alerts us

as if wanting

to give the illusion

of a new order

more labile

more perfect













20 de agosto



en ellas

el grito

es aun más silencio




22 de octubre



Confiesa que lo has bordado

muy de prisa

a gigantescas puntadas

como si te corrieran

como las Brontë


¿por eso

la casa atrás?

¿siempre irrumpiendo

la casa




tan frágiles los árboles

que un viento leve los vence


tan ominoso y certero

el vuelo de las aves





15 de noviembre



si hay árboles como hojas


si hay gente

como signos de admiración


también ha de haber, seguramente



como avenidas radiantes





como dorados cúmulos preñados



galaxias, cosmos, éteres

como negros carruajes




17 de diciembre



en cambio aquí hay estudio


un tiempo

de meditar y medir

las consecuencias


un círculo arrebolado o


y otro círculo dentro

y otro adentro

y otro


solo esa aguja fija, excéntrica

nos alerta

como queriendo

dar la ilusión

de un nuevo orden

más lábil

más perfecto


From Diario ínfimo (Ediciones de La Isla de Siltolá, 2017)











Rural Journey / Camino rural is based on a work by Marianne von Werefkin; Gray Spring / Primavera gris and The Avenue / La avenida were inspired by works with the same title by Alice Bailly; Color-Writing, 3 is based on a work by Olga Rozanova. Different versions of these poems were published alongside the artworks that inspired them in an anthology of Roffé’s ekphrastic poetry titled The Radiance of Things (Shearsman Books, 2022), which is available as a free e-book for download here: The poems in these versions belong to Diario ínfimo (La Isla de Siltolá Ediciones, 2016), for which we are seeking an English-language publisher.



Photo Credit: Rocío Amorós

Mercedes Roffé is one of Argentina’s most internationally recognized contemporary poets. Her books have been widely published in the Spanish-speaking world and, in translation, in Italy, France, UK, Quebec (Canada), Brazil, Romania, Lebanon, and the United States. Among other distinctions, she was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in poetry (2001), and a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Center residency fellowship (2012). In 2021 she received the Casa Bukowski International Poetry Prize for her trajectory. Roffé lives in New York City and is the founding director of Ediciones Pen Press (


Photo Credit: Rafael Calderon

Lucina Schell is the international rights manager at the University of Chicago Press, and a member of the Third Coast Translators Collective. She translates primarily poetry from Spanish. Published translations include Daiana Henderson’s So That Something Remains Lit (Cardboard House Press, 2018) and Vision of the Children of Evil by Miguel Ángel Bustos (co•im•press, 2018)as well as selections from authors including Erika Martínez, Graciela Cros, Ada Salas, and María Ángeles Pérez López.


Poesía en acción is an Action Books blog feature for Latin American and Spanish poetry in translation and the translator micro-interview series. It was created by Katherine M. Hedeen and is currently curated and edited by Olivia Lott with web editing by Paul Cunningham.