The night of your death
God spattered my window with wet. The rain
hurt as much as cold hurts in a Christmas story
inside cardboard neighborhoods. The wind
hit the walls, slipped through the cracks in the house,
chilled the closets, made its shrieks
a guarded lullaby.
Hidden beneath the bed, I covered my ears, ignoring
the wind’s presence outside my bedroom door.
To enter, you’ll need to pass twelve tests.
I will not make it so easy.
I saw myself as an etymologist of atmospheric conditions, a meanings expert.
Just outside my fifteen year old fears, cotton
sang within a dream of Sophocles:
Open and you will see how the cold awaits you with its frightening face, to
tell you everything you don’t want to know. Open and you will see that
the cold waits with its terrifying face to read the story
inside your hands.
It poured down outside the closed door to my room. The
water overwhelmed the sheets, soaked through the box springs, and the lint
moved—poor, extremely dense—toward the door.
I lay down, drenched, on the mattress.
(Welded in black)
Lying down on the mattress, I disconnected the telephone.
The lint—abundant, proud—sought my bed.
The light pushed its particles against my eyes: barbed
like hail, imitating in its percussion applause.
The lamp learned its gestures from the clouds, unloaded
all its rage on me. I don’t interfere. It’s enough
to resist the larger dark.
The lint climbed up the night stand
and invaded my bed, and slipped through, camping
in my throat.
My gray mouth, oracle that is always right, refused
the next steps. I breathed with difficulty.
I could think of nothing else.
Dirty, sure, for going where I am not called.
I listened how, in the next room, Caravaggio
hoarded all the attention.
Hardly half an hour. The call, the departure of my parents,
My chest bumped into the TV; my forehead, the nape of my neck, my sweat
confused with water.
(I am Salomón. I plan to build a secret altar for Sundays.
I’m not looking for praise,
but that you give me a hand,
help me escape the tide.
The river I entered rises with the tears
of strangers. My heart is a sponge, a black box that
all that happens.
Meanwhile, the funeral home does its job. Rent is equal to
A blond woman, pale, welcomes me. I am Salomón.
I will show you my secret altar
if you show me where she rests.)
Ophelia on the other side of the glass, Angélica after four
years, obeyed by the water,
while I kicked to keep from drowning. I say water and
cry for the one I lost. Like pushing a
button deep into my back. The known
Two days before you said: When I’m better, I’ll go to the salon
to fix this disaster.
The window showed the opposite: in your gray roots,
overgrown, your curls sprung for forty days and
Never vulnerable, never dead: as beautiful as the
last time we saw each other.
(God, then, placed his hands on my shoulders
and I felt alone.)
Flannel protects my subterranean life. The world, beneath the
sheets, is perceived differently:
its thickness was supposed to keep me from fangs and radioactivity, was
supposed to keep me away from the attacks of monsters.
Yellow tulips on a blue background. Prozac for the dark
hours. It was hard to breathe beneath the sheets. The nightmares
made a partial
stratum outside my bedroom, above the
clouds, where asphyxiation occurs with the same
as beneath the blankets. Right when I couldn’t breathe, you
rescued me, and I fell asleep embracing you, four, five
years old, and my nightmares were digested with breakfast.
Everything I have
I owe to you. You learned to read when you were five. At eighty
you wrote, on a pad of graph paper, your
life. Happiness was your last word—
Now that you have died, on the other side of the closed bedroom door
while older sisters run for
refuge beneath the colonnades,
someone who is not me, but looks like me, writes in a
telephone booth in permanent black ink:
God, come here,
I dare you to come back and do it, now
I am bigger than you.
The falling rain forms a mudslide, illuminates
the shoulders and avenues for the nighttime traffic,
expels from its kingdom the most beautiful inhabitants, provokes
envy, outrage, signed treaties.
It also transforms its cravings in ready notes
on a corkboard: I need to clean up the terrace, put
my papers in order, guard myself for when the storm comes.
The rain accomplishes all of this
just as the wind decrees that trees don’t matter, that homes
should spend the night awake, and strips clotheslines
and interrupts the sleep of those who consider themselves safe,
beating against the glass of our windows.
doesn’t respect your closed door. Melting, it pressures
the translucent cracks, and drags itself creeping
into the place where you sleep,
dirtying your feet when you wake, impregnating your bones
and flesh with its stench,
until you breathe in deeply
and decide, throwing the sheets off, to shout at it
from the middle of your room–done with everything,
scared of its presence—
I no longer fear death, since it brings me back to her.
Translated by Emily Vizzo and Curtis Bauer
You can read and listen to the poem in the original Spanish here.