Skip to content
It’s not too late to support our 2020 WWB Virtual Gala fundraiser. Click to donate!
from the September 2006 issue

from “Límites de Alcanía”

Should I say that I take pleasure from treaties? Should I say that I take pleasure, rather, from false treaties? false treatises?


She presumes to know me. Or pretends. Very simple. Flashy, at the exit of a restroom at the cinema (when she collided with me she dropped a tube of lipstick and, underneath my foot, a tube of lipstick?) she says (adopts an aggressive tone) immediately: "Hey, you, ojihondo." She presumes—or rather I presume—that later... but no. The testimony? Very simple. She is the one who initiated it: "Today I have seen many things." And now in a park she picks up the duffel from the ground—: "Because I know how it all was." And she tells me (aggressively) now, on a bridge (the duffel on the ground, my view, the umbrella on the handrail of the bridge, my view, her breasts...): "Hey, you, ojihondo."


"Will you walk onto a set that you've never seen before?"

With that duffel bag...

I: "As you may recall..."

Because we are going down a different road and now, with that duffel and, down a different road?


Are they green, nearly red? Nothing like a careful observation of an ant column's continuous advance.

Red, nearly green? A column that could skirt the pot of cactus in the window.

The continuous advance and the column. The little flowerpot (and the ants) in the background.


And in the restroom, site of T's alleged installation, her exposure allegedly agency?

With the water that wets sufficiently.

Sense that flogging, sens-ing that latency—intense, internal fluid—and, burning flavor? on the tongue.

T., still in the restroom. Me, in front of the mirror. Teeth nearly stained. Me in front of the mirror.


And if you can't remember very well, or only scarcely remember afterwards, our sessions (sesions) in which we read just so much, a little, until nightfall; when we avoided looking at ourselves, avoided anything at all. How different and confident we are at the table, very different, now that our hair is graying. You say, "I can't control it," you say, with that attire... And of course, I wanted to believe—I don't know how you would put it—that you were referring to a certain vain and strident music in those days. I only quoted some untranslated verses I took, imagine, from a Romanian poet: Mă—nchin la soarele—nţelept, / că sufletui f—nt—nă—n piept. Can you imagine? Well that's what I said.


What could happen then, what, in that ghetto, one frigid morning, spotted with shadows, without knowing one or the other, without knowing about anyone or no one, those or the others.

The well overgrown with Rangoon Creeper. Two other elements, even:

a) The column of ants
b) The cactus—in the window

They would've converged in a point right there, each one, in that ghetto and—that—same point or ghetto would lie in two halves.

Them? The police? Them—standing over the duffel, and the rancid remains, found:
"They divide and they gather."

Guided by yesterday's ways, guided by the ways found right now in Alcanía, the neighborhood of yesterday—spotted with shadows.


Submerged in the (...) The horn-shaped hands scream, scream at me, she contains.

Naked, with that cadaver you dragged and it called to mind—remember, from A.P.?

It was on the bridge. I was naked with a hat of flowers
and I dragged my cadaver, also naked, with its dry-leaved hat.

Would she have resolved the story of that poor-son-of-a-bitch, the neighbor whose dripping faucet kept her from sleeping through the night?

Naked. Her horn-shaped hands—contain.

Unrestraining, also within the crane's rusted irons.


Faithful to herself she feels or says she feels a curiosity for... We look through the windows. Isn't it absurd? Get out. Isn't the world absurd? Is the world not full of absurdities? Are men only a curiosity? Are we not also an absurd curiosity?

Another moment now at home (the wind at the window pushes my pages) and that same voice, her (futile?) voice in this futile room, her very voice disarticulating.

"And when I eat mangos," she tells me, "I want to get at the seed, should feel how I do it, in fact I won't say, don't feel, I've eaten mangos if I don't really suck the seed."

She could have extended herself, you could have thought she was a bit wicked. That it was her fault, all that stuff about the mango.


But if I'd never seen the way you look, your opening eyes, mouth, and, more exactly, the way you show your teeth, with sax and heels in hand.

With another test like that (almost unexpected) and that same intense voluptuousness.

If repeated, something irreparable could happen... Or should I not spoil it in the meantime?

In the face of such voluptuousness, I don't know if I'm explaining well, but certainly I could.


Will the Rangoon Creeper grow any taller than it already has? Will it definitively cover the well and this barren lot? Confronted with the other invading plants and neighboring areca palm, will the medicinal plant not also charge? Usually the voice of some mason could be heard distinctly in that environment:

"Lay it differently."

"My idea was to lower the window a bit, so that someone could calmly observe."

I tremble, considering the idea.

And it's that they should have come here with the rains—(T., is not specific)—the red ones, the green ones, the whites, between ragged cars and trash-heap furniture strewn around the yard. Fruits or seeds?


Honestly—her presumption of a courtyard was minimal. There are rickety cars and disused furniture. Only two oxidized fifty-five-gallon tanks to store water, a dilapidated washing machine and plants like the aloe ("it grows beautiful in her hands") and lion's paw, chamomile ("I didn't even see a cactus, only the lonely one in the window") and its neighbor the areca palm ("seeming more yours—I think that's how I said it—than its owner's") blossoming now against the wall.

No medicinal plant, nor Rangoon Creeper. Yes, in the barren lot.

But I speak of them as if you always cared for them.

From the beginning, oh God:

"A rotting place?"

"Oh no, a planetarium"—she smiled, on the first day.


With bread dough I seal the point where the ants come in through the window. Continuing, I write—no, I should say I set in place—a scale, an idea.

Now is the moment when they can't escape you, fly away? Make a run for it.

I write: I seal the cave.

My lips pass along the border of the glass, empty, of T., of course. I aspire, of course. And if all of this is, has been, (will be?) Who will know...?

And I open, without thinking anymore, another entrance to the (...)

I write: I know I can (if I don't seal the cave, come on) look at the ants, their unfinished, apt line.
In the window—that inexact line.

Read more from the September 2006 issue
Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.