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To Steal

by Fabio Morábito
Translated from Spanish by
Curtis Bauer
Issue 26 Online Exclusive

When I was thirteen I would steal money from my parents. Every day I’d remove just enough coins to go the movies, which I’d always go to by myself, running away from the oppressive climate of my house. I’d go to the first afternoon show, when the theater was nearly empty. I don’t remember a single movie, not one title, not one image that passed in front of my eyes. I think the vague sense of being a thief kept me from enjoying the movie and I tried not to look the ticket lady in the eye who, I was certain, knew where the money that paid for the ticket came from. I hardly had any friends at that time, my performance at school had plummeted and movies were my only respite. I would always steal at the same time, after lunch, taking advantage of the brief nap my parents took. My hands trembled as I dug through the pockets of my father’s bag and my mother’s coin purse. I recognized the touch of each coin I needed to remove and I’d take only the exact amount necessary for the ticket, not one coin more. I don’t know what impact those thefts had on my life, and I have asked myself if they might have influenced my literary inclinations; if writing has been an extension of them, because they granted me, as well as embarrassment and remorse, a tendency toward introspection that later led me to read countless books and write a few of my own. I don’t regret these thefts and I even think that in writing workshops one should be taught to steal small quantities of money, because when one writes intensely one is in fact stealing, extracting from language’s pockets the words necessary to say what one wants to say: exactly those words, and no more. Even today, after so many years, I tend to wake very early to write, while everyone else is still asleep. I don’t conceive writing as something illustrious but as something clandestine. I look for just enough coins to escape the stifling atmosphere of the mundane. Since I get up so early, my friends admire me for my discipline.



Original text: Morábito, Fabio. “Robar” from El idioma materno. Madrid: Sexto Piso, 2014.


Fabio Morábito lives in Mexico City, where he teaches in the Autonomous University of Mexico. He translates from Italian and is author of four books of poetry, five story collections, two novels, and three essay collections, including El idioma matron (Mother Tongue), (Sexto Piso, 2014).
Curtis Bauer is a poet (most recently The Real Cause for Your Absence (C&R Press)) and a translator of poetry and prose from the Spanish (most recently Eros Is More, by Juan Antonio González Iglesias (Alice James Books) & From Behind What Landscape, by Luis Muñoz (Vaso Roto Editions)). He teaches creative writing and comparative literature at Texas Tech University.