Two poems from emerging Mexican poets Isabel Zapata and Martha Mega, which have been translated from Spanish by Manzanares de la Rosa.
Her Name is an Almond
by Isabel Zapata
In his nightmare, it’s May of 1994 in Kigali.
Grégoire has been hidden for three weeks: some days ago his neighbors entered
his house delirious, armed with machetes, their clothes bloodied. Among shrieks
of laughter, they raped and killed his daughters. He saw everything from a bush, but couldn’t move.
The years have gone by but the dream repeats itself every night. Every man carries
the shovel with which he’ll dig his own grave.
In your nightmare, you walk slowly underneath an umbrella made out of human
Next to you crawls a man who fails to be. On his head, he carries an old rag with holes
through which pieces of scorched flesh are seen. Behind, a mob of masked men, all of the
same height, sing a hymn in a language that only the devil recognizes.
In my nightmares, it’s always four in the afternoon.
There is always a hospital bed.
In it, it’s always my mother who’s lying down. In my nightmare, her name is
Patricia, her name is an almond that breaks between my teeth.
My mother is still my mother, but she will soon cease to be.
There is only one way to laugh and I have forgotten it.
On the slaughterhouse door, there was a huge number. It was number five.
by Martha Mega
you wake up screaming in other tongues
even though your mother breast-fed you Hebrew
your father beat you up in Tzotzil
you kept your secrets in Arabic
here there are others who name themselves
aryans, mexicans, tutsis, israelis
you’re not one of them
lost brother from Babel
you’ll know what to respond
if somebody asks you
what’s the sweetest thing in life
someone __ i don’t know __ from tralfamadore
what would you say?
i think they should come up
with better lies
or they’ll have to go on without us
they should tell us another story
so we can take strength and crawl
as the unfortunate mammals we are
on to a forest away from the flames
a forest made up of all forests
let them tell us a story about traveling to other planets
let’s go to ardent dresden which is like an ardent moon
or off to whistling acteal we go
to look at the stars or whatever crosses the sky in gaza
let there be the night of February 13th, 1945
or the lacandon morning of December 22nd, 1995
or that evening five years ago when mom did not return
if somebody asks you what’s the sweetest thing in life
do you manage to sleep?
i would say
wake up now
in any tongue
we went and burned down the city while you were sleeping.