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Like a Disease Whose Threshold No One Can Cross, She Says
—Translated from Spanish by Forrest Gander
Someone nodding, and the light pressing down
as though it had weight.
And right in the middle of what I want to say
there’s a long row of chairs. There are green,
red, yellow arches that gradually contract
and close, like doors.
Like a disease whose threshold no one can cross,
she says.


It’s OK. Nothing more for these three.
A recurring character materializes in the center.
She appears in a painting
and then
becomes the painting. As if someone
were cheating
and she hadn’t even shown up.


The light moves like a current
or skein of threads.
There’s a wooden boat, a small plane,
and the current rocks them now and then.
Inside, there’s a crab.
There’s also a heart.


She approaches me wanting to tell me
that I. And then she stops telling me.
You never know the story, someone explains.
One sparrow, and suddenly they all descend
swarming the root of everything.


There are precipices that they refashion
to match the sketch of a flume.
Don’t pen tedium in that same circle;
free it from its cage. The hoop was spinning
and spinning.
But don’t go on and on, because that’s what confounds you.


With their curious manners, they see me like this,
And me, how do I see them?
What do they expect?
And she takes a swipe. I don’t want to.
And that’s it.


I don’t know, don’t know what they are.
I don’t know what’s happening to you all,
she comments.
Is she getting better? There’s something
they altered, but no one knows what,
no one ever knows.


A person no longer submerged in the water.
Just a little frame freighted with glitter.
Footprints in the batter.
Like a duck’s. Little plastic ducklings.
On the trashcan it says:
“They tossed out something.”


And I’m not so sure I understand.
But do you know when they get to kindergarten? Yes,
it’s like a triangular window,
long, orangish. Behind it, someone’s there.
But as far as I can tell, it’s another girl.


Is she getting better?
You have to put her in the shower.
She’s wearing an apron. You were working?
Yes I was. It must be a misunderstanding.


Don’t be late. I think someone thinks.
A pink roof strewn with many pipes
and someone blots out her face
with some ink.
The left side of her face smiles.
That’s the end. And you’re granted the option.
But as far as I can tell, it’s another girl.


Don’t come back, she says.
No one knows the story.
The window gets closer and closer
and behind it, someone’s there
but she’s been erased, and only the light remains,
that yellow light.


One of the major voices in contemporary Mexican poetry, CORAL BRACHO is the author of Firefly under the Tongue: Selected Poems and the forthcoming It Must Be a Misunderstanding (both New Directions), translated by Forrest Gander.