Given that I write in a language
I need to awaken
when others sleep.
I write like someone who gathers water
from the walls,
I’m inspired by the first sun
on the walls.
I wake before everyone else,
but up high.
I write before dawn,
when I am almost the only one awake
and I can make mistakes
in a language I learned.
Line after line
I search for the prose of this tongue
that is not mine.
I don’t look for its poetry,
but instead to come down from the high floor
on which I wake up.
Line after line I strive,
while the others sleep,
to get a head start on the day’s lesson.
I listen to the noise of the pump
that brings the water to the cisterns
and while the water is rising
and the building grows damp,
I disconnect the other language
that in my sleep
entered into my dreams,
and as the water rises,
I descend line by line like one who
gathers language from the walls
and I reach so low down sometimes,
that I can allow myself,
as a luxury,
Translated by Lawrence Schimel
Fabio Morábito was born in Egypt to an Italian family. When he was fifteen, his family relocated from Milan to Mexico City, and he has written all his work in Spanish ever since. He has published four books of poetry, four short-story collections, one book of essays, and two novels, and has translated into Spanish the work of many great Italian poets of the twentieth century, including Eugenio Montale and Patrizia Cavalli. Morábito has been awarded numerous prizes, most recently the Xavier Villaurrutia Prize, Mexico’s highest literary award, for Home Reading Service. His work has been translated into several languages. He lives in Mexico City.
Lawrence Schimel (New York, 1971) is a bilingual (Spanish/English) writer who has published over 120 books as author or anthologist. He has won the Lambda Literary Award (twice), a Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and numerous other honors. He is also a prolific literary translator, in both directions. Recent translations include: into English: Hatchet by Carmen Boullosa and Destruction of the Lover by Luis Panini; into Spanish: Bluets by Maggie Nelson.
The fourteenth issue of Latin American Literature Today features dossiers dedicated to the dislocated writing of Latin American authors based in the United States and the gothic fiction of Mariana Enriquez, plus reflections on writing in a second language by Fabio Morábito, an interview with 2019 Alfaguara Prize winner Patricio Pron, and exclusive translation previews from Guadalupe Nettel, Gabriela Wiener, and Luis Alejandro Ordóñez.