Online Exclusives
| All Online Exclusives >

In the Foreground

Em primer plano
by Valerie Mejer Caso
Translated from Spanish by
Michelle Gil-Montero
Issue 28 Online Exclusive

The four who face me, glaring. An astronaut, a shepherdess-poet, a village pianist, a woman in furs who rests her chin on the palm of her hand. It would be better to address them, familiarly: You have all witnessed or loved space. You’re no strangers to fury, and with your bare feet, you seem more visible and at hand than freshly baked bread. You’re crushingly sad, like me. But you have faith in something almost like salt. You, second from the right, have tied your polka-dot tie like a solemn rite. Like your own execution, which you predicted in a poem. You, the astronaut on the far left, smile like a child because you’re ready to launch. You’ll know the moon from above, and that knowledge, incommunicable, will be recorded only in the odd expression you wear when you return. I linger for a while in your eyes (almost black), and clarity engulfs me like an October day: everything is atmosphere. I’ve stopped looking at pictures to think of you, of how you’re not in front of me or with the others: I think of your body’s silence, which showed me the likeness of things, and I regret the violent undertow rearing up waves like buildings to block the kids in the ports from escaping, I regret the paths that never cross, and I regret, above all, impossible love.




Original text: Valerie Mejer Caso, “Em primer plano” from Cuaderno de Edimburgo. Madrid: Amargord Ediciones, 2012.

Valerie Mejer Caso is a Mexican poet, painter, and translator. Her books in English translation are Rain of the Future and This Blue Novel. She has been the recipient of the Gerardo Diego International Poetry Award (Spain). Her unfolded book "Untamable Light" was recently part of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.
Michelle Gil-Montero is a poet and translator. She has translated several books of poetry by contemporary Latin American writers, including María Negroni, Valerie Mejer Caso, and Andrés Ajens. Her work has been supported by the NEA, Howard Foundation, and Fulbright.