translated by Anne Boyer & Cassandra Gillig
THIS CURSED TERRITORY
After recovering the body
they did not ask me how I was feeling
and the neighbor gave me a few small pats on the neck
there where you usually nosed around before throwing yourself into sleep.
As I promised you,
I keep my legs strong and live upright as the stem of a flower,
and though they say that lemon balm is the leaf of the melancholy,
I breathe it at night
before knowing if there will be frost at dawn.
Of the recommended poetries
I’ve barely read any.
I try to kill time
time without you
without possibilities of autumns or duck hunts
nor of trips to Canada.
I open my eyes
and I hear my mother calling for an afternoon snack
in the middle of this silence tempering 3 in the morning.
The man upstairs opens his sliding glass window
spying on the breath of the night like someone with no place to cry
and when it happens
it fills my eyes with tears
I’m obsessed with him
a small matter from balcony to balcony.
I have tried to change this pain with a great tumult
I end up content
go and come by the dark living room
without having stopped to install the floor lamp
that would have thrown a golden light about the legs of the invited
There is that book of Hellman’s
that you loved so much
because she loved Dash and sent to him by mail a thousand meters of telephone cable
that they never used.
My hopes are low
but tomorrow I will think only of them.
For now, I curse the mountains the guava marmalade the toothpaste
the cold cream on my cheeks the intersections of avenues
the tree of the house where we moved for the second time
I curse cursed curses for all the stories they whispered at me:
on one side
on a long table
polished dark brown
made from my skin and all my cursed curses.
I’ll tell you how I know what I am:
they say that I was conceived without sin
my cries were answered with other cries
people went on vacation and left me
gave away my New Year’s clothes
disowned the shame when I was absent
I had no mourners for my trespasses
threw breadcrumbs at watery graves
placated my own desires
held the ground between myself and the penumbra
bought a dog and let it out
paid Cesar Vallejo to love me
passed without glory or pain beneath the Mirabeau Bridge
I don’t have a single friend dead in the war
no one knows my name for sure
they betrayed me without asking permission
Miyó Vestrini was born in France, 1938, emigrated to Venezuela at the age of 9, and at eighteen she joined Apocalipsis (Apocalypse), the only woman to do so in the then man-dominated scene of the Venezuelan avant-garde. She soon became a dedicated and prize-winning journalist, directing the arts section of the newspaper El Nacional. She published three books of poetry in her lifetime: 1971's Las historias de Giovanna (The History of Giovanna), 1975's El invierno próximo (The Next Winter), and Pocas virtudes (Little Virtues), published in 1986. Vestrini died by suicide on November 29, 1991, leaving behind two collections: a book of poems, Valiente Ciudadano (Brave Citizen) and a book of stories, Órdenes al corazón (Orders to the Heart). Grenade in Mouth: Some Poems of Miyó Vestrini (Kenning Editions, 2019) compiles poetry from all parts of her career and is the first English language collection of Vestrini's work.