Elena Medel



Our favorite dish required a certain preparation. My grandmother

opened the fish vertically, reading my future.

She would carefully arrange its insides across the surface wound:

Marks of death should not become infected.

Meanwhile, she talked to me. I was still little; I had come back

from school, asked about lunch, gave my thanks and said:

Fish like those in summer. By then the weather was cold. And when

we finished eating we sat together, we watched

television together, we breathed together every afternoon.

To be alive was normal for us,

and in summer I got angry

when I saw her walk up

and down the shoreline:

I was angry because I feared that she might become lost in a wave, or that she

would catch a cold, or simply because for a few minutes

she was far away.

When we returned, I sat in her rocker and she helped me

clean the sand from my feet, to find my crayons

in my bag, to clear the salt and crust from my eyes.

Winter, now, is friendly in this house. Coming in, I wanted

to find you peaceful, retelling your stories, smiling

to remember the good times, like always,

following the customs of my childhood.

But now you are not here. The two of us no longer live, and

the grasping cold slams my back, remembering so many things

that I return to fear, and my eyes slip

in my wet hands like winter fish.



Translated by Emily Vizzo and Curtis Bauer


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