Tag Archive | "Ezequiel Zaidenwerg"

Five New Argentine Novels (in English!)


A year ago, Buenos Aires was named the UNESCO World Book Capital City, an honor we at The Argentina Independent decided to commemorate by launching a new literary section and, with it, the ‘Author Spotlight’ series. Our goal was to bring stories, poems, plays and other writing by Argentine scribblers into English, and to feature this work alongside original English-language interviews with those contemporary Argentine scribes. In just twelve months, as the famed Buenos Aires International Book Fair has come and gone and come again, we’ve managed to do just that — bringing into English novel excerpts by Guillermo Martínez and Carlos Chernov, poetry by Ezequiel Zaidenwerg, theatre by Marcelo Pitrola, short fiction by Inés Fernández Moreno and a series of microfictions by Ana María Shua.

In addition, we’ve featured two authors — and will feature a third next month — whose novels will soon be available in English translation (hint: Ángela Pradelli, Carlos Gamerro, Andrés Neuman). And, as we celebrate the first birthday of this series, we’d like to toast these authors, and their excellent additions to the Anglophone library, alongside a few other Argentine novels we think are worthy of a place on your 2012 Argentine book queue. These five aren’t just the most interesting novels by Argentine writers being published in the US and UK this year, they’re the most interesting novels being published in the US and UK, period. And they are all by Argentine authors that we’d feel remiss if you didn’t know about. So take out your pen and jot these names down, or load them onto your “To-Read” App, or scan them with your Google Glasses, whatever your style may be.

Friends of Mine by Ángela Pradelli

Friends of Mine by Ángela Pradelli
For loyal readers of this series, Ángela Pradelli needs no introduction. An excerpt from her novel ‘Amigas Mías’, translated expertly by Andrea G. Labinger, helped us launch as our first installment a year ago. Now, after much anticipation, the full-length novel from which that excerpt was taken will be released in English from the Latin American Literary Review Press. Called ‘Friends of Mine’, and also translated by Labinger, the novel tells the story of a group of women living in the Buenos Aires province, who meet once a year on 30th December to eat dinner, celebrate the New Year, and reflect on the strange, difficult and wonderful passage of time. Structured in short, lucid fragments, the novel reads like a coming-of-age tale for a group of friends, a neighborhood, and an era of life in middle-class Argentina that has as much resonance today (and outside of Spanish) as it did when it was first published in 2002 and was awarded the Premio Emecé. Re-read our interview with Pradelli for more context, or peruse the sample we published last year. Then head over to the LALRP website to buy a copy for all your friends — after all, that’s what the novel is about.

The Islands by Carlos Gamerro

The Islands by Carlos Gamerro
When we spoke to Carlos Gamerro last year, two of his acclaimed novels were in the process of being translated into English, both by his friend Ian Barnett (who also translated ‘The Peronist Princess’ by Marcelo Pitrola). Last year, the first of those books, ‘An Open Secret’ (Pushkin Press), was released to a critical consensus: The Economist — a publication not known for effluvient rhetoric — declared that Gamerro’s novel had “the makings of a classic,” and the Independent called it “haunting and disturbing.” This isn’t news to us; we’ve been enjoying Gamerro’s brand of darkly comic prose since we published his story ‘Bad Burgers’ in August. Now English-reading fans of his fiction will have another reason to cheer: this May, And Other Stories, a new British publishing concern, will release a translation of Gamerro’s first novel, ‘The Islands’. Like the spiralling narrator of ‘Bad Burgers,’ the protagonist of ‘The Islands’ chases his own trauma down a rabbit hole when he discovers that, despite the passage of ten years, the Falklands/Malvinas War is still raging — a reality he’s not quite ready to confront. Written with Gamerro’s trademark muscularity, we’re certain this new addition to the English-language cannon will only swell his growing fanbase. Head over to the And Other Stories site to pre-order a copy.

Traveler of the Century by Andrés Neuman

Traveller of the Century by Andrés Neuman
Long considered an “up-and-coming” writer by the Spanish critical press, Andrés Neuman (born in Buenos Aires in 1977 and raised in Granada, Spain) published two novels set in Argentina (‘Bariloche’ and ‘Una vez Argentina’) before his fourth novel (‘Viajero del siglo’) won Spain’s Alfaguara prize and caught the attention of English-language publishers. That book, published as ‘Traveller of the Century’, made its way into the British bookstores last month, and will soon be released in the US. Neuman, who has written poetry (‘No sé por qué’), short story (‘Alumbramiento’) and travelogue (‘Cómo viajar sin ver’), created in ‘Traveller of the Century’ a novel that is at once contemporary and historical: set in Restoration-era Germany, it discusses sexual mores and intellectual disputes in a distinctly modern way. Praise from writers like Roberto Bolaño long ago boosted his reputation in the Spanish-speaking world, but more than acclaim or ambition, it’s the clarity and grace of Neuman’s prose that has earned him high standing among fans. Now, English-language readers will have a chance to assess, and enjoy: check back here next month for an excerpt from ‘Traveller of the Century’ and interview with Neuman.

The Planets by Sergio Chefjec

The Planets by Sergio Chejfec
When Open Letter Books (US) published Sergio Chejfec’s novel ‘My Two Worlds’ in English last year, the English-reading public was introduced, for the first time, to a unique writer: hyper-perceptive, unafraid of interiority, sworn to the incremental drama of hermeneutics. The novel was well received — one critic called the book a “vast and complicated work of literature;” meaningful praise for a novel only 102 pages long. So this summer, be alert for literary excitement when Open Letter releases the second volume of Chejfec in English: ‘The Planets’. First published in Spanish in 1999, ‘The Planets’ was written during the fifteen-year period when Chejfec lived in Venezuela, a temporal and cultural dislocation important to the text. As ‘My Two Worlds’ used ambulatory reflection, ‘The Planets’ uses the act of remembering to elevate a simple story into an elegant register. It’s a mode of literature difficult to master, but worthy of celebration when done right. Head over to the Open Letter website to begin the celebration.

Varamo by César Aira

Varamo by César Aira
As much as there exists a literary rock star for the 21st century, César Aira is it. He publishes a new book nearly every 6 months; each is more beguiling than the last. They’re short, they’re irreverent, their surreal, or anti-real, or unreal, or, beyond real. Sometimes they’re sloppy; occasionally, they feel unfinished — but somehow, either because of, or in spite of all that, they are always worth reading. Already author of nearly 80 books published in Spanish (no one seems to be sure of the exact number), Aira has, for the last decade or so, slowly been making his way into English. Now, New Directions, famed US publisher of Borges, is bringing out a book nearly every year, with five published since 2006. This year, they’ve released ‘Varamo,’ a novel kind of about a Peruvian man who takes up the homemade art of fish embalming, and also kind of about a very slow city-wide car race, and also kind of about the makings of a classic Central American poem, and yet somehow also not about these things at all. ‘Varamo’ is as strange, and as compelling, as Aira’s best work. In fact, it may be Aira’s best work. Or his worst. You’ll have to read all his books to know for certain. Visit New Directions to start with ‘Varamo’.

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Author Spotlight: Ezequiel Zaidenwerg


I met Ezequiel Zaidenwerg in August, 2008. I was spending a semester in Buenos Aires as an undergraduate exchange student and he was teaching a seminar on poetry translation. At the time, I harbored vague, earnest, poetic (in the pejorative sense) notions of what the process of translation was—in fact, I’m pretty sure I didn’t even think of it as a “process.”

Ezequiel Zaidenwerg, poet and translator (Photo: Valentina Siniego)

So, it came as a surprise when Ezequiel briskly set out, in the early minutes of Day One, to give us a crash course in poetic meter. The first thing I learned from him was the word “heptasyllable.” As Ezequiel presented it, translation involved a tireless kind of imagination, but one that necessarily operated within an elegant structure; it involved, for that matter, structure. You had to be a cover artist, not a composer. And you needed chops. So, first order of business: scales.

For a while, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about all this. But I came around. And as I got to know Ezequiel, as a professor and later as a friend, my enthusiasm for translation continued to grow.

When Ezequiel and I coincided in Mexico City—the city where I currently live and which is threatening to adopt Ezequiel—we decided to collaborate on the translation of several of his new poems. These poems, taken from his second book, ‘La lírica está muerta’ (Lyric Poetry is Dead, 2011), display his fierce poetic intelligence, both sprawling and precise, and his vast and focused imagination: his language, equal parts learned and off-the-cuff, manages to praise and problematize both our current (literary, cultural and political) moment and the legacies that have borne it out.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1981, Ezequiel has published one other collection of poetry—’Doxa’ (2007)—and two collections as translator: ‘Me va a encantar el siglo XXI’ (2011), poems by Mark Strand, and ‘El club del crimen’ (forthcoming), poems by Weldon Kees. He also maintains the celebrated poetry translation blog, zaidenwerg.blogspot.com, where he publishes poems newly rendered in Spanish twice a week.

In the following conversation, conducted during our time in the Mexican capital, we discussed topics of great poetic importance including, but not limited to: inspiration, freedom, Lorca and monsters.

Can you talk a bit about your most recent book, ‘La lírica está muerta’ [‘Lyric Poetry is Dead’], in terms of what prompted you to write it, how it came to be, how it’s structured?

I started writing ‘Lyric Poetry is Dead’ when I was 24 as a kind of invective against my elders. However, the project kept expanding, and, as it expanded, I myself continued to grow and change my ideas about poetry. The statement “Lyric poetry is dead” is an (ironic) quote from an Argentine poet, Alejandro Rubio, of the generation before mine, who, in an ars poetica included in the anthology ‘Monstruos’ [Monsters] that collected poets from the ‘90s, made this provocative declaration.

My initial proposal was to refute it; that said, as time went on, the book’s agenda ceased to be a defence of lyric poetry (which, in any case, doesn’t need my help or anyone else’s) and instead became an elegy for the loss of the idea of transcendence through poetry. In some way or other, the book’s thesis is that lyric poetry is a zombie — dead from the start, but continually reviving and reincarnating itself in order to terrorise us (or question us). As for its structure, it’s a unitary poem divided into thirteen narrative vignettes; in each one, lyric poetry is personified by a famous cadaver from recent Argentine history or the history of literature. As a kind of coda, the book concludes with a poem called “What Love Does Unto Poets,” which doesn’t strictly belong to the previous series, but which is intimately connected to it.

How do you think ‘Lyric Poetry is Dead’ most strikingly differs from your previous (and first) book, ‘Doxa’? To put it more broadly, what are some of the ways in which you feel you have “evolved” as a poet?

I wouldn’t know how to say whether I’ve evolved as a poet, or even if I’m really a poet, or what it means exactly to be one. Apart from that, I think that ‘Doxa’, my previous book, with the exception of the homonymous poem, was rather, on the one hand, a metrical exercise, and on the other hand an attempt to cloud the waters so that they’d appear more profound, to appropriate Nietzsche’s metaphor. Additionally, there was a conscious mission on my part to create radically different books, which has to do with trying not to fall into the comfort zones in which those who write poetry and sustain this foolish passion over the long term often fall. I firmly believe that, more than writing against tradition or against other poets, one writes against oneself.

Do you find yourself repeatedly revisiting particular “terrain” — certain subjects that continue to fascinate you, individual ideas or images, styles or forms you’re attracted to or comfortable with — over time? In other words, are there recurring motifs, or even recurring obsessions, in your work?

I suppose so. I think one (very) weak point in my poetry is the scarcity of physical images. Unfortunately, my poetic sensibility is eminently linguistic, so my poems tend to be constructed, almost without exception, from ideas (to be clear, let’s say that all have some kind of thesis); in addition, I think that what gives them poetic density, if indeed they have it, is the search for verbal imagination. Consequently, I suppose some of the elements that recur in my poems are humor, or at least a certain kind of sarcasm or irony; the mix of references from different cultural registers; and an almost unhealthy obsession with meter.

(Photo: Valentina Siniego)

Both your poetry and your translations are always written in meter. Why? Can you describe the importance of meter as you see it?

I can’t say (although I’d certainly like to) that metered poetry is better than unmetered poetry. There are abundant examples to prove it. However, for me personally, the use of more or less established metric schemes allows me to organise myself when I write; I believe, like Luis Cernuda, that freedom isn’t of this world, and I find it impossible to write amid the chaos constituted by total boundlessness. I think that, in the field of the arts, formal limitations don’t pose a restriction, but rather a condition of possibility.

Your blog of poetry translations, zaidenwerg.blogspot.com, is widely read and respected. What has the experience of maintaining this blog been like for you — both as a translator, period, and as a kind of “messenger” among various audiences and contexts?

Well, to tell the truth, I owe the entirety of my meager literary career to the blog. Although, perhaps rightfully, I’m known almost exclusively as a translator, posting some of my poems on the blog has helped give my poetry some visibility. With respect to the experience of maintaining it, this year will mark its seventh anniversary, and the third anniversary of its religious twice-weekly updates. I should confess that there have been moments of great enthusiasm and others in which, amid the tumult of life, only my sense of duty has prevented me from abandoning the routine of publication.

As for my responsibility to the public, I don’t consider myself a “messenger” of anything. The blog was born in a period of time when I found it completely impossible to write a poem of my own, and translation helped me stay in contact with the “kitchen” of poetry. I never thought of diffusion as my objective, nor am I interested in upholding the tabernacle of the “original” as something inviolate. About the translator’s role, my creed is effectively platonic: I believe in a kind of platonic

heaven of poetry, where poems exist separately from the particular linguistic embodiment dictated by the original; the translator’s job consists of seeing those ideal forms and adapting them to the conditions of production in the given language and the context in which the translation is carried out.

What is the relationship between your work as a translator and your own writing? Do these roles directly inform each other somehow?

Yes, obviously. I suppose that the fact of writing poetry and possessing a certain technical repertoire helps me connect a little better with that platonic heaven I mentioned before. As for the second part of the question, I hope that translating such diverse poems by such distinct poets has allowed me to enrich my arsenal of poetic methods.

Poetry, like any art, strikes me as a strange social beast. On the one hand, it’s intensely solitary by nature. On the other hand, people make a lot of noise about different kinds of literary “scenes,” which of course vary by place: readings, workshops, festivals, university programs, etc. How much literary “community” — formal or informal — do you need, or do you feel comfortable with? What is the relationship between solitude and collectivity like for you?

The poetry world, like all professional communities, is contemptible by nature. It’s full of hypocrisy, envy, and resentment. However, I don’t harbor the childish illusion of being able to change it: I participate, since in order to be a writer it’s necessary to disseminate what you write, but I don’t take it too seriously. I do believe in the fundamental importance of having interlocutors one respects and hopefully admires, and fortunately I have a small group of this kind. I should also mention that it’s difficult for me to feel comfortable in the context of Argentine poetry, given that I generally don’t have anything in common with the conception of poetry that many of my compatriots tend to have, especially when it comes to the technical dimension. Strangely (or not), I’ve found in other Latin American countries, above all in Mexico, a group of poets whose work, poetic and theoretical, inspires and nourishes me.

Could you tell us some of the poets — or poems — that have been most important to you over time?

I discovered poetry when I was 15, when my high school literature professor brought a poem to class by Federico García Lorca, “Oficina y denuncia” [Office and Denunciation”], which is part of his book Poeta en Nueva York [Poet in New York], and it made me see that there was something fascinating there, radically different from prose, which until that time I had read avidly and attempted to write. Later I discovered by chance, on the cover of a now-discontinued Argentine literary journal, a poem by Oliverio Girondo, ‘La mezcla'(The Mixture) from ‘En la masmédula’ (In the Masmédula). I didn’t know it yet, but what fascinated me about Girondo’s poem, more than his syntax and verbal experiments, was his incantatory use of rhythm. Some time later, when I bought my copy of ‘Trilce’, the incredibly famous and also experimental collection by César Vallejo, I completed my first trinity of books that inspired in me the desire to read and write poetry.

The second and more lasting revelation took place a few years after that, when I set out to read the authors of the Spanish Golden Age, from whom I finally learned classical technique. In sum, I’d say that my trajectory has gone from the avant-garde, or rather from experimental poetry (one couldn’t say that Lorca, Girondo, or Vallejo are truly avant-garde poets), toward a certain classicisim. More authors would come later, many of them from the US, whom I came to know intimately through translating them, as well as many others in my own language. In any case, as time went on, I went from thinking of poetry in terms of poets to beginning to think of it instead in terms of poems: in this sense, I firmly believe that poetry is a collective creation, a gathering of poems rather than poets; it’s for this reason that even those considered “great authors” leave only a handful of poems to posterity.

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Lyric Poetry is Dead (Selected Poems), by Ezequiel Zaidenwerg


[I] On Civil War

Ezequiel Zaidenwerg, author of "Lyric Poetry is Dead" (Photo: Valentina Siniego)

Lyric poetry is dead. At last.

The moment that we’ve all been waiting for has come.

Now we can unequivocally say
an era has concluded. The splendid order of the centuries
is being newly shuffled, freshly founded.

An iron child is born for poetry,
and with his advent, through the resignation of the ancient golden lineage,
a steely progeny shall rise up
in its place: in any case, it’s time
for us to sing
of more important matters.

An iron child is born
for poetry, and the horizon darkens with a sole unknown:
Will his parents smile tenderly upon him?
Will bitter laughter overcome them?
Will he view them with scorn? Or with suspicion? Perhaps
what’s worse: will he repay his life and their support
with an indifferent face?

Lyric poetry
is dead. And so it is, although her death
–whether the ones who now take credit for it like it or not–
occurred unceremoniously:
as a tree falls, a nameless trunk amid deep woods
that no one passes through,
she fell. Technique was also lacking:
the cross’s shoddy planks,
the rusty nails, the crown entwined with thorns,
the vinegar-soaked cloth a human hand
with rudimentary skill once warped
–they played no part in the affair,
which had no witnesses, no exemplary punishment,
and came to pass with little forethought,
leaving no mark.

She’s dead. And so it is.

And so a savage destiny sweeps up
the poets and the crime of fratricide,
as of the moment when her blood was spilled,
like a curse on her heirs,
upon the earth:
it happened on a piece of open ground; the blow
surprised her from behind.

She’s dead.

Lyric poetry is dead.

She didn’t die like Christ; they murdered her
like Abel.

[2] Sodom and Gomorrah

Lyric poetry is dead.

And though I pleaded
many times for God to kill her
and end my suffering,
I now remember her with bittersweet
nostalgia.

It happened many years ago:
tired of the chaos of the city,
I fled the Capital and took my family
to a small village, isolated in the middle
of the prairie.

The early months
passed happily, unhurried,
among the lethargy of work,
domestic life, and the continual
siestas.

On weekend afternoons,
we’d go to walk around the park
and nod our heads in greeting, always
to the same drowsy faces
whose eyes would brighten only
if someone shared a bit of gossip
with superficial malice.

My sons –as was
expected– were the first
to grow accustomed to that life: they quickly
struck up friendships with the locals,
mingling so closely they could almost be
mistaken for each other, amid the banter
over beer, cars, football, women. As for the others
–my wife, my daughters, and myself–
the adjustment was a bit more difficult,
despite the mildness of the climate,
except for the humidity.

In any
case, such tranquil days
would have to end eventually:
in early autumn, I began to notice
that, underneath the weary plainness
of that provincial folk, there lay concealed
a deviance I wouldn’t want
to find myself required to detail.

And so
our mutual distrust took root;
at first, from our side only,
but it didn’t take them long
to notice it: a slant about the smile,
a lowering of the gaze
in greeting.

As months went on
and days grew shorter,
the strain grew stronger, though
it wouldn’t openly reveal itself
until the winter.

It was
a night of bitter cold. By chance,
some relatives had come to visit
from the city. All seated
at the table, we were sharing
the meat, the bread, the wine, and suddenly
we heard a knock at the front door: we opened it
to find the entire town outside,
assembled at our entrance.

One of the neighbors, who appeared to be
the leader of the angry
mob, demanded:

“Where are
the ones who came tonight to see you?
Bring them, so we can meet them.”

I left the house and closed the door behind me
and begged them all to leave,
but they just sneered:

“And did you really think
that you could come here from the city
to tell us what to do?”

My daughters, seeing
that my efforts were in vain,
leaned out the door and offered,
in exchange for leaving us alone,
to go with them, but even so
they would not be persuaded.

Within the house, my relatives reached out
their hands and, pulling me inside again, closed
the door tightly.

Meanwhile, outside, the townspeople
attempted to tear it down; and others
clutched the metal bars protecting
the windows, making faces
and threatening gestures; they would have
taken us as prisoners, or maybe
something worse, if the unexpected
hadn’t then occurred:
a midnight sun
all of a sudden rose above the plains,
and it was day. Dazzled,
the rabble paused a moment
in their violence; a gentle rain
began to fall,
and from inside we saw the people
raising their hands, receiving it
with joy, and then they started, one by one,
to shed the clothing on their
backs.

And so, the men with naked
torsos, the women in their bras,
they suddenly began to dance
despite the intensifying rain,
although there was no music. The steam
fogged up the windows more
and more, until we could see
nothing from inside. The light
outside appeared to strengthen
and then we felt abruptly that the heat
was rising faster:
we watched enormous raindrops
run down the windowpanes, now clouded over,
our bodies drenched in sweat;
meanwhile, the rain resounded, making it
impossible for any sound
outside to reach us.

All this continued for an hour, an hour and a half.

And then we felt the heat begin to drop,
and all at once the lights went out.

I opened the door hesitantly;
an icy wind struck hard. I found my coat
and stepped into the night, dimly illuminated
by the moon: upon the site
where, moments earlier, had stood a town,
I saw a field of ashes
and the soil itself gave off
a vaguely sweet aroma.

Without delay,
I gathered up my family and we set out,
not really knowing where we’d go;
once we had left behind, at last,
those devastated bounds
that had contained the village, my wife
looked back; with teary eyes
and faltering voice,
she said to me:
“The smoke is rising from the ground
as from an oven.”

Seeing her stiff,
I struck her hard
to force her to react.

We reached the road
soon after and we followed it,
walking for several hours,
until at last we could make out
the poorly lighted sign of a gas station.

From there we used the phone to call for help
from other relatives, who came
by noon to rescue us; so
we commenced our journey to the city,
from which we’d never move
again.

Time passed. And with its passing,
habit
did its work: resentment toward
the prior horror soon became forgetfulness;
forgetfulness submitted to the daily chores
of wanting what was missing, which consumed
my days.

And yet, I’m often wakened
in the night by the distressing sense
that they, the people of the town, were acting
to defend some kind of love exactly like
my own, and I’m tormented by the certainty
that it was all for nothing:
renouncing
both the others and ourselves,
to keep on living
just like always,
just
like in any other place.

[3] Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna

Lyric poetry is dead.

In that one photograph
that went around the world, the strangest company
encircles the cadaver: three
civilians (two observe it, curious, while the third
averts his eyes); a pair of soldiers
with frightened faces; one photographer,
back to the camera, with three quarters of his body
out of the frame; and two
officials dressed in ornamented uniforms:
one glances to the camera pointed at him
while he supports the lifeless head,
posed like a hunter with his trophy;
the other, who appears of higher rank,
points with his right-hand index finger
to where the heart had beat,
as if he could revive it with his touch.

With open eyes and a clear stare,
the body seems like it could rise, a Lazarus
returned to life for just an instant,
if only to sink back at once
in death.

Lyric poetry is dead.

And I imagine
what they’ll be saying, those who had believed in her
to justify it
(the same as always):
that she was not herself the light,
that she came only as a witness to the light;
and that she came to that which was her own,
and yet her own did not receive her.

What’s certain is, it went like this:
we captured her at dawn,
maimed by a bullet in the leg
after an ambush that had lasted
from noon till late,
the night far gone.

In those conditions, even so,
—not just the leg; the asthma too, oppressing
the lungs—, she’d persevered in combat,
until her rifle was destroyed completely
after a shot that crushed the barrel;
in any case, the pistol’s magazine
was empty.

Moved to the barracks
(which used to be a school), to be interrogated,
she said beauty was patience
and spoke of lilies—what
are lilies like? I’ve never seen one—,
which, in the field,
after so many nights under the earth,
break through one day
from straight green stalk to white corolla.

But here, in these parts,
everything grows chaotically and without purpose,
and I, who came to the world and grew up
ferociously, against and then despite it all,
like grass that struggles up between the pavement cracks,
flattened by passing cars—but here
the roads aren’t paved, and there are hardly any cars—,
I couldn’t understand that she, delivered into everything,
her parents’ own investment in the future
—and time, to her, was like an arrow moving deliberately
toward its conclusion, while to me it was a sequence regulated
not by the urgency of longing, nor the instinct’s deaf impressions,
but rather something sacred, though remote—;
I couldn’t understand how she’d abandon
what she had left behind (the aimlessness
of comfortable existence, or perhaps an excess
of arbitration?) to come to this wilderness
where everything can grow,
but only hunger thrives,
to go in circles, and to witness how her comrades fell
one by one, in combat with an adversary
innumerable in its members
and their invisible divisions,
battling for the triumphant glory
of an Idea: we, born here
in this wild place,
where nature still
exists distinctly from the will of man,
learn early in our lives that liberty
is never of this world, and love
is act, not potency.

But I said nothing.

And then there was a silence:
while we interrogated her, we heard
the charge to kill her. (Whatever happened to her hands
was after she had died. I didn’t see it. I even heard
about an order to cut off her head,
which was defied.)

Some hours passed.

A captain told us we should wait
in case there were a counter-order,
which never came (the radio already informing of her death).

Midday arrived. We had to kill her.

And as for how the facts were given,
it isn’t true: that we could hardly bear it,
and so we drank to give us courage,
and even then we couldn’t.

We simply did
what they had ordered us to do:
we went into the room where we were keeping her
and killed her as you’d kill an animal
that you had raised to eat.

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