Isabel Crooke Ellison, England





The Antillean Sea


I sit beside the sea,
the Antillean Sea.
Silenced by the fury of the winds
I become one with her element
and listen to the songs, the lure of the mermaids
surging towards a crescendo
when the powerful passion of the tide
will burst orchestral in the tempest.


The silver frenzy of sardines
that sprang over the waters in carnival, were summertime.
Now the sea is a passioned fury
clashing with the harsh cry of seagulls
and her pain, the ocean’s lament,
bursts and mingles with the souls
of dead sailors
while their tears are wept
by widows of the fishermen.

Tomorrow the sea will dawn blue, turquoise and emerald green.
Pelicans and cormorants
will cross her glittering.Calm.
But the colours of the sea that melt into the sun
will be the flowing wound of oranges, scarlet and crimson
of the dead Antilleans slain in the infancy of our history.


Antillean Sea, who listens to your voice, your story,
the songs of the tide? 
Who understands your colours or your grief?
Your wisdom is the counselling of the whales and dolphins
that we never listen to,
or do not wish to hear
or have forgotten with the tides of centuries.


Tea with Bad Temper

Today was for gardening
But it’s raining.
So now I shall put a table in the sky
and take tea with Bad Temper,
afternoon tea at five p.m.
with a table cloth of grey clouds
and the pot in the centre
to pour rainfalls of tea.
We will eat bread buttered with souls from purgatory
Topped with a marmalade of nastiness;
slices of delicious disenchantment
decorated with flowers of forlorn love
and the side dish, a splendid mixture of bittersweet spinsters
and the cake of bad marriage.


But the Sun is coming out and with a calculating beam
extends his long fingers
and a flawless strike disperses the table.
The kettle whistles and, how wonderful!
I’ll take tea with the Sun
and Bad Temper now dismissed
like a dark cloud fades and disappears
amidst the rejoicing of the afternoon.


Weightless Being


Weightless being
light in your passing,
who celebrates beneath torrential rains,
fishes in the unfathomable waters of lazy lagoons
splashes happily in the shallow world of toads
dives into the world of crocodiles.
Eyes, intimates of the dark
spy the stars.
It perceives the nocturnal tales
whispered in sibylline intimacy;
ruler of a lazy  revelling
under a tropical idleness
a live arrow of immaculate aim,
myth and omnipotence,
supreme being of the Underworld,
the Sun’s emissary,
Lord of the jungle
eternal  Image, my Jaguar.



The Spring



The Spring runs tousled
In the breeze of her youth.
Flirtatious laughs burst forth
in the April rains.
Her lips overflowing with pleasure
spill rivers of song and flowers
and streams of festive melody
make faces at the winter shadows
that slide shamefaced towards oblivion.
Her perfume intoxicates,
impisheyes invite
and her voice, intimate and pagan
calls to the ancient gods
who rouse with sensual smiles.
May the fungi wine flow!
Pour the sacred chicha!
And Xochipilli woos her
with poetry:
poetry that is
song and flower.





Happiness is as fleeting
as the comet across a twilight sky,
as brief as the sweet sultriness of summer
before the storm:
or the life of the chicharra
that only just nascent, sings frantically its farewell:
or the full moon, golden on the horizon
just before a new dawn:
as volatile as the sudden glitter of crystal
as it totters from the table:
or the creaking of a branch
the moment it falls from the tree:
or the sudden shimmer of a mirror
before it breaks into a thousand splinters.


But with the thousand splinters of happiness
The vertigo of emptiness lights up
and for a moment is satiated
by twinkles of happiness.


A Murui Song


What is life?
It is a ray of light that caresses the forest,
the sigh of the jaguar,
the gurgling of the stream,
the perfume of the jungle,
the shadows of the afternoon
that fade into the night.



The Truth?



I walked between reality and fancy,
between reason and myth
ever searching for the Truth.
I was lost in a jungle of philosophies
with gargoylish and lascivious gaze
endeavouring to seduce me.
And History haunted me, haunted me, and haunted me.


One day, my mind a labyrinth of possibilities,
and drunk beneath the datura tree
left me, amidst my dreams, to come across the Truth,
the Solemn Truth;
The Truth!
The Truth?


Song of the Coca


Coca or Aya in Aimara,
you are the seed of the humming bird
hair of a maiden
the path towards wisdom
an incentive to memory.


And the shaman sing your praises,
lament your present and your end.

You are the soul of all councils,
the science of the elders
custodian of ritual mysteries
owner of all myths
the Word of the gods.

And the shaman sing your praises,
Lament your present and your end.

You are a gift at puberty,
the present at the weddings
a seer of all destinies
an offering to bless the harvests
a sustenance for toil.

And the shaman sing your praises,
lament your present and your end.

You are the keeper of celestial forces,
guardian of a fragile harmony
between the universe and Earth;
companion on their last journey
you grace the lips of the dying.

And the shaman sing your praises
and lament your present and your end.

Isabel Crooke Ellison born in England she came to Colombia where she finished her studies in archeology. She married the anthropologist Horacio Calle Restrepo and in 1976 became a nationalized Colombian. During seven years they were dedicated to anthropological investigations, especially among the Murui-Muinane Indians of the lower Putumayo region.

Then she studied medicine and after graduating from the School of Medicine, Juan N. Corpas (Bogotá) and specializing in dermatology in England, she continued to work in indigenous and peasant communities throughout Colombia, including Putumayo, Cauca, Sierra Nevada, Boyacá and Cundinamarca.

She now lives in Barichara, Santander, where she dedicates a great deal of her time to writing and illustrating her books. The first to be published was “Sueños con Jaguares”, myths and legends of the Colombian Indians (Editorial Intermedio Ltd. 2004) “Has visto el amanecer”, stories related to the sun and the moon was published by the publishing house El Peregrino in 2013. That same year, her first book of poetry was published, “Jaguares de la Luna” and her second,“Cantos de la Marea” is in print at the moment.

She has participated in many literary workshops including the “Encuentros de Poetas Colombianas” in Roldanillo, Valle, where she has received several prizes.

Sueños con jaguares Artículo de Ángel Galeano H. -Spanish-

Published on May 5th, 2016

Última actualización: 18/01/2022