Waiting for a Tribe Of Mutilated Words

Pedro Hoffmeister
2 min readFeb 21, 2022

The Argentinian writer Alejandra Pizarnik hoped for poetry.

Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

The Argentine writer Alejandra Pizarnik wrote this in the middle of one of her poems in 1965 (when she was 29) and it made me think of the writing process:

“And there is, in this waiting,

a rumor of breaking lilac.

And there is, when the day arrives,

a division of the sun into smaller black suns.

And at night, always,

a tribe of mutilated words

looks for refuge in my throat…”

In Spanish, it’s a little different, but the same idea (for example, “espera” could mean “waiting” or “hoping” in this context, etc.):

“Hay, en la espera,
un rumor a lila rompiéndose.
Y hay, cuando viene el día,
una partición del sol en pequeños soles negros.
Y cuando es de noche, siempre,
una tribu de palabras mutiladas
busca asilo en mi garganta…”

“Asylum” is slightly different from “refuge” as well, since asylum is protection by a nation of a political refugee or (maybe more accurate here) protection for someone with mental illness, which Pizarnik struggled to overcome. She was institutionalized and committed suicide by the age of 36.

Yet she hoped for poetry. And hoping IS waiting. We wait as we hope, or it’s the same thing. And what Pizarnik was anticipating was the arrival of her “tribe of mutilated words” that she could then speak out onto her page. She’s hoping for a powerful break through her lilac image, and lilacs are metaphors for renewal, for spring, so we see her hope of something new, of some kind of powerful change.

But Pizarnik needed more help than she got. She was imagining the division of suns, and these new suns were black, darkness, no givers of light, the light she was so desperately needing.

Yet she hoped enough to give us her poetry, and in this way, Pizarnik lives on forever.

Pedro Hoffmeister

Author with Random House. TBI survivor who struggles. Poet. Climber. Former Writer-In-Residence of Joshua Tree National Park. Podcast: “Boring Is A Swear Word”