Elena Medel

Family Tree


I belong to a race of women with biodegradable hearts.

When one of us dies her dead body is displayed

in public parks, the children come to pry in her tin

throat, to celebrate her with flies and worms,

I’m so sad. She made me smile, so I didn’t like her.

Exactly thirty days after her death the body of this extraordinary race

self destructs, and the soulful remains of these supernatural women

call at the doors of your houses, they crash into your walls,

their fillings and fingernails make holes in your windows

until our aortas bleed nailed to the earth, like roots.

When we die they open our stomachs, their fingers examine our insides,

they search through our viscera for the treasure map,

pulling out fingers soaked black from poems that remained inside us for years.

A spectacle.

I belong to a race far beyond the pulpits. I am one of them because my heart

stains when hands hold it, because it is about the same size as

the hole of a tomb; fresh and sweet

like an animal, suck on my heart so, at death, it is known

that we have been together.

I am one of them because my heart will be fertilizer.

Because my blood, which is hers, goes up and down my cadaver like an escalator;

because the foundation of my character, when it decomposes, joins a wild species

that barks, that wounds, that takes you

to its terrain, that ignores insults, that will never go out.


Translated by Emily Vizzo and Curtis Bauer


 You can read and listen to the poem in the original Spanish here.