Ana Merino

To Survive Daily Life


When I went down to the cellar with my dirty clothes

I forgot that I had put a handful of ideas

in the back pocket of my pants for safe keeping,

and when I took the clean clothes out of the washing machine

I discovered them scattered

on bits of paper, totally illegible.


From that moment on

the soul of things whispers that I’m crazy

because I pray in reverse to a god who no longer exists,

and stigmata appear on my hands

and strangers come to see me

and stay with me at night.


My words were drowned in soapy water

and I couldn’t find a trace of them in my head.


The letters that sprang forth from my fingers

that I wrote on the papers that I stored in my pocket

were my address, my name,

the title of a book,

the languages I speak, the things I never say.


They were magic formulas to survive daily life,

how to open the mailbox and say good morning,

how not to open the door for the seducer

who is never reflected in mirrors.


Everything I’d write down were little hints that I followed

to put the pieces of my body back together,

so I wouldn’t be mistaken and know who I am

without having to think about it twice.




Translated by Elizabeth Polli

“To Survive Daily Life” is from Child’s Play (Harbor Mountain Press, 2012).


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