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Shadow

Sombra
by Valerie Mejer Caso
Translated from Spanish by
Michelle Gil-Montero
Issue 28 Online Exclusive

I saw a rat pass. Or the shadow of a bat flying low. It was something. Some evidence of a world of callous textures. It all happened in a neighborhood of hardware stores. Another day, on a tar-streaked beach, I remembered the little bat shot dead, one bullet through its furry forehead, when the proud hunter balanced its black, symmetrical body on the pallor of his big, bare belly. If I used this in a novel, I’d have to say what I was doing in the tropics nursing the hunter’s gangrenous leg, and why his proudest feat was to have killed a baby bat: “My eyes are better than theirs,” he gloated.  In some novels, a scrawny man with a clean forehead remembers his unbloody childhood while driving on a road though nothing but snow. He thinks his problem is a woman, whether to love her or fear her red bundle of undulant hair. Scarlet on white, the novel is hers. It all happened in the north. And there’s a big hole in the South Pole, where hunters, like mine, prowl for new gold. In the evening, flocks of herons can be taken for bats that no longer need the night, because the grandson of an English general (my father) swears that sees them at all hours, that he outrivals the keen ear they evolved for centuries.  And the novel spills over, like dizzy meltwater, regrettably. Flooded roads, the black skies of prehistoric wings, and she, the clean motorist’s sweetheart—like a wafer on the tongue—dissolves into the science fiction from which I come.

 

 

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Original text: Valerie Mejer Caso, “Sombra” 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.