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  • Miami
  • Legna Rodríguez Iglesias (bio)

translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell

If someone callsand tells you no,hang up quickly.If someone callsand tells you yes,hang up quickly,as well.

airport, five in the afternoon

If I count the people my poor eyes (astigmatism and vision loss) can see in just a few minutes, maybe I'll get up to a million. In my right hand, a hundred books and in my left, my passport. The hundred books weigh more than me, so I hurry to find a cart where I can deposit the bag that holds them. I tug on the cart but I can't get it out. I pull harder and nothing. The cart backs up toward me in reverse along an aluminum rail, but it won't come off. I have to put my credit card into a slot in the wall. The slot in the wall is a machine that will access my credit, subtracting a small amount, and the cart will come off the rail. But I don't have a card. Or credit. In the place I come from, cards and credit don't exist

wynwood, three in the morning

The black city sleeps. It wakes slowly, one eye, another eye, other eyes, other human beings. The buses approach in a straight line; I don't see them arrive because if I turn my face, the wind blows my hair, it's annoying. I don't even look at the cars; they upset me.

The bus brakes, stops, doesn't lose speed, gains space. It's my space. It has the look of an animal, of an immense plant. It costs a dollar, more or less, maybe two. The girl invites me to get on with a friendly gesture. I get on. Inside, everyone is [End Page 327] black. Black old women, black men, black children, my girl. The air conditioning, cruel, makes everyone bristle. The girl caresses me, rubs my arms to warm me up. It burns. There is an imperceptible movement of my arms that denotes estrangement. I find it a little pathetic that I don't know how to detach, can't manage anything less than astonishment.

Half an hour before the bus arrived, I walked beside this girl along a sidewalk of squirrels, raccoons, flowers. Not speaking, only smiling, rushing toward the bus. Laughter replaced language, canceling it out.

It's a bus and two women, poor, strangers.

panther coffee, ten in the morning

The people are beautiful. Never in my life do I remember having seen so many beautiful people within a single perimeter, without suffocating. Inside and out, beautiful, marvelous. They speak English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Japanese, Arabic, German. They tell the truth and they lie. They can lie because they're beautiful and they drink coffee very elegantly. They open their computers and type quickly very elegantly. They order iced teas and chew whole-grain sandwiches with even more elegance. They enjoy their appearances, they smack their lips, they smile at each other, forget what brought them precisely to this place. They enjoy life and the coffee. They buy Bolivian coffee, Colombian, Brazilian, Venezuelan, American. They're kings. They reign and order. They command and exchange. They exist.

For my part, I'm a cat, seated and calm. She's a cat too. Loose braids. Standing behind the counter. Serving them all. She purrs toward me, a mug in her hands for me, hot. Almond milk. Heart.

I take a photo of the almond heart with my phone.

Cat and happy.

books & books, two in the afternoon

Suddenly the opposite. Grimace, glass, paper. Pricey, pricey books that I can't and don't want to read. Classics. Modern. Contemporary. Tables with umbrellas. Writers more illustrious than the books. White wine in fine glassware. Sightseers and bystanders. Three women writers sitting side by side not knowing what to say to themselves. One crosses her hands, another crosses her legs, another calls the waiter over. [End Page 328]

Buy whatever you want, my treat.

I want to flee and collide with a tree that smells of damp resin.

We don't have trees, only...


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