This Is the Horse Poem I’ve Been Trying to Write
smoke, but she imagines them streaming tears. Imagine, she says to her friend in her head, the loneliness of hearing a river’s murmur all your girlhood and never being able to murmur back. Her friend answers with a picture of the wife he has lost. His love, he calls her, a name la Alienada has never been called by. But soon, la Alienada is losing even her mind’s eye, losing the voice and image of her friend across the city. Where before her mind could hover above the half-star shape of the prison he described and its bloodthirsty tree he showed her, now she merely traces a half star in the air with her fingers, not remembering what this shape belongs to, nor the man who’s trapped inside. Later, she cannot mold her words into sentences to send him. And then she forgets altogether. She sits in cold wet, a puddle of piss around her. She rocks back and forth, her long hair covering, uncovering, covering her eyes. She slams her cupped palms down on the floor, hammers her elbows against it. But no noise is loud enough to reach the broken place in la Alienada where the ear alerts the mind that a sound has been made. los descendentes
In another story, the mute Alienada speaks at last. A brand-new voice. Strong and clear. And because her voice is new, it could be anything, anyone’s voice. In another story, out of her mouth comes the voice of her friend, el Prisionero. El Prisionero says, Ya. He says, Enough. He spiders his way up the wall of a pit he’s been kept in. He plots with his fellow prisoners, commanding their attention with the bass drum of his voice, which is la Alienada’s voice, too. He seizes one bar with both hands. Another prisoner seizes the bar next to his. All the prisoners clutch the bars as if they were not bars at all, but life rafts floating off into the bay of Puerto Barrios. Together, the prisoners pry the bars apart. After all, they are strong like their fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers before them. But in this story, later, in the after, the babies are born. Most grow into children, though some do not. One child says to her father, Papá, look, and shows him her reddened palms and little bumps on the soles of her feet. One child says to his mother one day, Mamá, I cannot see you very well. And finally, I cannot see you at all.
Experimental Studies on Human Inoculation with Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and Chancroid