Ethel Barja

flor carnívora

tenía la costumbre de seguir tus pasos
como quien encarna su gravedad
en otro cuerpo
la roja arena
las cicatrices abiertas
bebía tu sed
del pozo oscuro de tu garganta
tomé tus ojos llenos de furia
amenazamos al vacío con devorarlo
respirábamos con la misma agitación
pulimos cada noche este espejo
ágiles domesticamos el miedo
con mi brasa quemé tu frente
que no era tuya, ni mía
éramos más que carne apretada a unos huesos
tú mi carne
yo tus huesos
que son licor
que son lluvia
que son sal
caminamos entre las llamas
indivisibles, indestructibles
destruidos ya
con esta herida
que equidista de cada ser desde su centro
de cada cadáver desde su centro
de cada sombra
de cada temblor
de cada grito

Published by permission of Ethel Barja

carnivous flower

I used to trace your steps
like somone who places her gravity
in another body
the red sand
the open scars
I used to drink your thirst
from the dark well of your throat
I took your eyes full of fury
we threatened the void to devour it
we were breathing with the same agitation
we polished each night this mirror
agile we domesticated fear
with my ember I burned your face
that was not yours, nor mine
we were more than flesh pressed to some bones
you my flesh
I your bones
that are liquor
that are rain
that are salt
we walked between the flames
invisible, indestructible
already destroyed
with this wound
that is equidistant from each being to their center
from each cadaver to their center
from each shadow
from each tremor
from each cry

Ethel Barja (1988) is a poet from Huanchar, Perú. She has a background in Hispanic Studies with degrees from the Pontifica Universidad Católica del Perú and the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently a PhD student in the Department of Hispanic Studies at Brown University. She is the author of the collections of poetry, Trofeo imaginado entre dientes (2011), Gravitaciones (2013) and Insomnio Vocal (2016). Her current work focusses on philosophical approaches to the study of literature and the construction of modern poetics in the Spanish speaking world throughout the twentieth century.

Barja’s poem is deceivingly simple at first glance. There are two bodies. They confront each other. Bones and flesh. Open wounds. Contrary to what one might expect, there is no winner or loser. Two bodies confront each other and slowly they consume each other. Open wounds leave entrances; thirsts leave voids longing to be satisfied and filled. These bodies face a mirror which, instead of reflecting one body back to the other, opens the door for the consumption of one into the other: the stepping of one into the other’s footsteps. One body becomes the other’s flesh while that other takes in the first’s bones. With elegance and a subtle beauty, Barja shows us how the carnivorous flower falls into a furious love that becomes all-consuming and insatiable.

Comment and translation prepared by Mai Hunt

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