Three Poems

Chilean poet Julieta Marchant.

Jasmine Tea

The old keys of a piano, the pedal like a mark
sinking the ends of what would seem to be the final note.
The cues are in the music, in the private rhythm that runs racing through
the city, the far-off territory that we made ours
lost and open to metaphors that said wind, water, or cloud.
Whether perpetual or brief, none of it matters,
the faint distinctions, the histories built on sand
which in collapsing form simultaneous waves, surges from sand
of what composed no longer matters.
The day is just one, which changeless and brimming absorbs the thrashes
of trees who arch and feign the form of willows,
the memories of willows, their whole biographies intact,
tied to the earth, anchored to the ribbed sides of rivers, signs of dividing lines,
messages of loss, these no longer matter. Not the rain,
not your hand, only one of your hands resisting the deluge,
the absurd denial of marks on a body, 
the word we have chained to our ankles missing
and which we try to break apart, dragging our feet over cement.



I call you wheezing a melody
“sing to me when we are alone”
so that you might swim inside the poem in these waters
which are pressured bubbles which are pieces of colored paper in a round collage
with a center lost in your nose also round and perfect I called
because the poem is looking for you anchored to the edge of the sheets
with your hands restless and soft with your hands like those of a child who needs to grab
hold of a skirt to lift out of the water and dunk again and lift again
and breathe again the poem restless with a kid face
and patent blue shoes
the poem that now is girl – la poem – 
that now is a small striped animal made of magazine strips
that now is a beast roaring deep underground
that now is you running circles around yourself
in a green dress that reaches your knees I call you she is calling
through a plastic cup tied to a string I call you shouting
evoking your hair in cursive I call you inflating my lungs so that you come
“this is an emergency” 
there is no poem (not even one) that can exist uninhabited by you
accustomed to this strange labor that continually falls apart until you arrive and jump in
and finally swim here
in words cut from the newspaper in parts of books I remember and just as soon
forget just as soon as I remember – sudden early epiphany – that my labor is to care for you
care for you like someone who keeps watch over a small hungry beast
like someone who gives death a place to sleep suddenly I remember
that there is only one big enormous book that contains everything
you held by me and me in the arms of the thirsty world.


The Birth of Thread (fragment)

An image: my grandmother gathering cashews.
An unreachable time
or the space between a negligible set of stars.
I wait for words while the outside continues infinite:
he bows his head before a window throwing back his reflection
a woman kneels by her child to measure the seam of a skirt
it is raining and yet no one gets up from the chairs
he focuses the camera waiting for them to not pose
– a candid moment for posterity – 
what moment could be the right one he wonders and says Look
just when the girl at the edge of the frame tucks in her hair.
My mind populates and empties, a hand pushes.
The door closes and the image fades
but the sound of her name keeps scratching.
We regret not goodbyes but only
the knowledge that that despite whatever we may build
the rain will keep coming
and yet
no one gets up.
I said Enough and my echo found refuge
in the breadth of that word.


Translated by Gwendolyn Harper


LALT No. 3
Number 3

The third issue of LALT features the debut of our permanent section devoted to Indigenous Literature with writing in languages from Mapudungun to Tzotzil, as well as remarkable short stories from Cristina Rivera Garza and Yoss, the rising star of Cuban science fiction.

Table of Contents