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.