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  • From the Rooftop
  • Reina María Rodríguez (bio)
    Translated by Kristin Dykstra (bio) and Nancy Gates Madsen (bio)

year’s end: wanted

(between Anne Frank and me)—what I’m asking you is whetheryou’ve seen the world.—well . . . what it means to seeit . . . it’s just that I couldn’t find it . . .

—Anne Frank, 23 April 1944

the day dissolves and I grow old. behind this day we’re lost we pass long rows of debris long rows of concave faces. I can’t lift my head or my legs my suffering crushes me under its gray coat. it must be a bad move with its hammer it wants to understand and to strike for the last time. if I could arrive at that clarity. a lamplight goes on in the distance. I too have lived like you the girl who foresaw the fire. if I could arrive. I know I won’t be able to stay the same I can’t be another animal and leave my own human self in the past. I’m dressed in black and although I don’t look it I am a jew none of you suspect it I live in a strange land in a strange world and they hound me. [End Page 104] I’d like to break with normal perception because I don’t live in the place that they’ve described to me of which I have only a sign, not an idea. do you have any idea of how the earth curves when I’m tying my shoes? thinking sometimes of god of my small individual god I speak some truth or another wanted: says a poster, and I get nervous. outside they prepare another mode of being they rent rooms    they paint the walls    they get used to things. being in inner revolution is less apparent to this deteriorating facade. we are patient spectators imitators    dreamers of a reality. buried in tedium I take life the wrong way I’m thirteen will this poison pass and my heart be happy? I don’t want to defend myself happiness has no connection to defense. my mother goes up and down the basement stairs she carries water here where I hide myself we lack many things but will we caress the plants? will we develop all the sensibility of the species? some are afraid of the depths and swim face up so as not to see them but they are simply there the plants that are waiting to be caressed. will it be the end of human coupling? I’m thirteen and I’m underground will we be able to change the surface without fear and dive to the bottom so the plants might wrap around us, benevolent and terrible? I’m dressed in gray and although I don’t look it I’m a woman in a ghetto I’m hundreds of years old none of you know you don’t suspect it I live in a strange land in a strange world and they hound me.

debts

today I want to write about what I’m missing not to waste hours or to throw words into the abyss: to sink into my depths alone and naked. what proofs can I give of my mortality? I’m just plain with freckles, dreams and pain. I have two children another will be born in September. I’m a bad lay —I get pregnant just like that— I’m number 338123 on my identity card no photo—the kids ripped it up— no record of offenses, serious or petty— I work as a program editor a salary of 163 pesos a literature degree many ungathered poems and friends in four categories: reliable good terrible and sad. a house that isn’t mine an electric fan, a comb the balalaika that my brother brought me the piano from childhood concerts a magnifying glass to see reality better photos of Martí and Hemingway reproductions books they haven’t stolen from me yet maps widening the wall letters from old lovers a watch, a blue butterfly, a heart and many debts infinite debts with life. [End Page 105]

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-800x
Print ISSN
1098-6995
Pages
pp. 104-107
Launched on MUSE
2001-04-01
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived 2001
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