Kristin Dykstra translating Reina María Rodríguez

like a cedar in a line of cedars

she was smoking Moore cigarettes that were smooth and dark. maybe he thought there would always be another carton for later. but they were the only ones left. the two of them were sitting far enough away that I couldn’t really see if any of his arm was still left below the hook, or if it had completely disappeared. (since yesterday I’ve been wondering if anyone has ever loved me.) the loss of his arm, the peculiar odor of the rubber simulating his hand, the gloves that covered it: these made me think constantly about his mouth. a trace left behind reveals a path and by following that, you find all the rest. it was strange. I put up with his conversation and company for days and nights. he talked about other men whom he wanted to please. seated at the tea table, he and she expected to be seen, to be recognized (like a cedar in a line of cedars). I know he let her go on talking without listening to her. he just wanted to give pleasure in order to forget that error of birth, and he closed his mouth tightly, tightly against the mirror and he looked at himself in the shirt with dark blue cloth over the other shoulder — a shoulder without virtue. now, she tried to take some swallows out of that burgundy bottle — he’d be thinking that there were other swallows, other bottles, other arms. she didn’t suspect that this was his proof against deception; his passage through a hallway of alcohol crossing one and many stories, her being located there — again in an errant situation, covering up her scars (on her face, her blemish, her abdomen) so she could place herself there, in front of his two arms — one dreamed and another absent, eternal; in front of excuses made to occupy her anxiety, her desolation, her uprootedness. this time he had his two arms well directed out toward the sides of his body and that body was an echoing music box; his side — its muscle suggested from the outside, a muscle chosen by Praxiteles. she only aspired to please him — like then, or like always — since, at the point of open recollection, her misshapen tooth appeared from its hiding place in the mouth. (another mouth always following the trace left by other mouths, one more, Lena). that’s what it means not to have properties, not to belong to a time. she hinted that she was the woman offering a cigarette, a swallow of alcohol, a poem, an image expended in her need to be noticed, identified, consumed on a contaminated and real plane by another’s desire (since dawn yesterday I’ve been wondering if anyone has ever loved me). do you know why I’ve accompanied you since then? why I hold the plated hook up to the iron, why I bend over and caress it with such tenderness? because she hasn’t been able to get rid of the vertigo. it enters my body during the night and paralyzes it with insomnia that rips a common landscape open to its arid death, where those images of what I never was and never had can enter, images of what was crossed out and dirtied for me in some part of the text. it’s an increase in potency that ends with an increase in impotency. it’s the horror of living in her body (her life) just for the sake of something equal to the loss of love, to the absolute conceptualization of love, running after a thing that approaches with the appearance of the real but is mutilated, another falsification. as if in the sweetness of something overdue — which is the memory of you slowly smoking your Moore cigarette with plastic fingers — as if in that imposture were continually happening the postcards, poses, games which always substituted their decorative and perfect objects for real and present people. I took pleasure from the odor of sweaty rubber that was his forearm; the round edge of his elbow dying without bone or illusion; I took pleasure from his anguish, caressing the doubled, yellowish glove that imitated a color, a skin. what gave me the most pleasure was to move that metal hand with its fittings and strips of leather to the other side of the room and depo sit it there, on the table, in front of a mirror that multiplied it. (a man who can separate himself from his right hand’s worries.) to see him typing on the little Olivetti, raging against the lights of the opposite shore where the ocean that he could not cross began, ocean that distinguished him. (now I have to see the lights in the company of a statue.) how do you defrost that marble iciness? how do you corrupt a statue? it’s the alcohol that will confuse things with each other as they near the end, produce intoxication and absurdity — she said. something so morbidly desired when one doesn’t want to know where the other part of a statue’s arm has ended up, or that it’s complemented and reconstructed here and there — she was efficient at restoration and had another hand sheltering permanently in the deepest part of her body; a hermetic hand and an arm with holes open to reason, a hand plagiarizing hot writings from the inside, a hand made up of innumerable hands that had left their traces behind in lucid fragments. the hand is there, very close by. how can you live with that?

the difference
a haunted house on the corner of San Rafael
like a cedar in a line of cedars
mouths, destinies
in Beckett’s South-Eastern Railway Terminus
the one who’s diving (1978)

Kristin Dykstra Translating Reina María Rodríguez

translation index

table of contents