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.