Does Federico Lorca’s gypsy poem La Casada Infiel (which I ran through Google Translate here) take place in the moonlight or in the dark? And can you see colors in the moonlight?
To answer these and other nycthémèrish questions, I set out a few hours after the start of the full moon Friday night to take some pictures, and ended up at the confluence of, er, Wolf Lake and Indian Creek. Yeah, Chicago has some real world-class rivers and lakes, and undoubtedly more prestigious confluences, and maybe some day I’ll take the trouble to conduct experiments on those too, but this one is within walking distance. I have also seen a wolf here with my own eyes, so quite possibly this is a lycanthropic stream, although I’m not sure of the effects of last century’s reversal of the stream to flow into the Calumet River on any of its magical properties. Probably the same as before.
I used a hundred-dollar camera (Cannon Powershot 560), timed exposures, and no tripod. The photos are more, or maybe less, associated with a line or phrase in the poem. More details after the photos.
yo me la llevé al río
[I took her to the river]
Se apagaron los faroles y se encendieron los grillos.
[The lanterns were extinguished. The crickets were kindled.]
como ramos de jacintos
[like hyacinth buds]
me sonaba en el oído
[they sounded in my ear]
como una pieza de seda
[like a piece of silk]
Sin luz de plata en sus copas
los árboles han crecido
y un horizonte de perros
ladra muy lejos del río.
bajo su mata de pelo
hice un hoyo sobre el limo
Ni nardos ni caracolas
tienen el cutis tan fino
ni los cristales…
[…in the moonlight]
… con ese brillo
[…with such shining]
como peces sorprendidos
[like surprised fish]
montado en potra de nácar
[mounted on a mother-of-pearl steed]
sin bridas y sin estribos
[without bridles or stirrups]
La luz del entendimiento
[the light of understanding]
And here is a gratuitous photo of the full moon at the end.
The objects brought to the lake were materials from this and other Lorca poems:
- silk–one a light blue-green, and the other with a black and white pattern
- crystals–manufactured crystal globes, a natural crystal polished in the shape of an egg (a crystal will reverse print), and a natural white pointed crystal with facets
- silver colored hand of Fatima and blue protective eye with beads
- a dark purple crystal from Mount Sinai, a metal key chain with a picture of the pope on it blessed by the pope, a cross of Ethiopian silver, red and yellow Palestinian-style cross stitch, and a paper straw sewing basket with a blue satin lining, none of which photographed successfully in the moonlight.
Yes, I could see color; I was wearing blue jeans and green sneakers, and could determine the colors of both in the moonlight.
The shell was a conch (in the Carribean pronounced conk) from the thrift store–they were popular tourist items in the last century and are now scarce. The flower was a moonflower from the back fence. I photographed some of my irises but they didn’t really turn out or look very scary.
I started out by walking around Wolf Lake by way of the alleys on the south end, but there was a lot of ambient light, nothing good to rest the camera on for timed exposures, and not very good access to the lake, not to mention no river as in the poem. So once again I ended up sneaking into the park after hours. After taking pictures for some time, I suddenly became aware that it was late, and I was alone in the middle of deserted park in a dangerous city. As if to underscore the need for alarm, I saw a movement close to me. Not Lorca’s barking dogs or the intruders they were presumably barking at, but a raccoon lumbering under the foot bridge. Then came a huge splash on the other side of the creek. Turtle? At night? Or a surprised fish? At any rate, the vegetation suddenly seemed unfriendly and it seemed wise to leave the park as quickly as possible and move towards the road where there was still some occasional traffic. As I left the park area, a stranger in a silver sports car stopped and offered me a ride. I declined with a wave of the camera and he quickly drove off.