Iowa Writes

From Descripción de la mentira
Translated from the Spanish by Sara Gilmore

Each distance has a silence

and gravestones tended by animals bearing calcium long after death.

There is more memory of their weight than of your spirit's rage.

Do the uneasy birds still call in the night air?

No, it isn't them. Nor is it the mothers, upright in furor, agile before bleeding walls; it isn't the wetness extracted from eyes opened wide over deeply-loved cadavers in rooms lighted until daybreak.

It isn't any cloak you may have used over your heart.

Crowned with black buds, like the ash tree in its days of clamor, you see the marks of prison windows in stone walls, you see the margins of extinction

and the purity of error inscribes itself with the slowness of wings more transparent than their own impetus, with a slowness more livid than the substances transmitted in generations: the taste of copper under the tongues of newborns, the taste of fire under the tongues of the saddest men.

Each distance has a rest. There is no erection in the residue of wrath

and women do not blaze under trees of stillness.

What signs remain from the particles of the fire. Those lips . . .
and, in the mastic trees— who? who treads deeper in the mastic trees than in their own heart?

Hidden fruits didn't ripen, hands hardened in innocence didn't reap the forgotten ears. 

The accusation, served by the purest voices, opens the springs and it is already too late.

This country was not burned by a wind, it was not scraped over by a herd. Now

the perfection of death is in my being.


Your serenity was the servant of spite.

Like quiet animals, sick of indifference, you drove us to visit men of importance and to immobile acacias over the dark of the river.

Your purple softness and your murmuring were docile. You stopped under the lamps and white insects appeared on you.

Like exhausted mirrors, we drew close to one another, our faces were revealed as they disappeared.

There is a story and it is the humidity of the same day you died: your long tunics sought after by women or respected in urinals. It's what remains of you: a more acidic city.

That was you: our words annihilated in your ears.

(excerpt from pages 28–30)

The accusation stayed too long on your tongue. You are unhurried like substances made for sweetness.

You lick my skin until signs erupt and your sobs form vaults in my heart

but my compassion is inhabited by slenderest animals, by persuasive animals and others versed in fleetingness.

Only you are outside and terrible: the one who stole my actions and doesn't sleep;

the one, blind in serenity.

Who speaks in you, who is the shape of your face?

Save yourself from those who consume suicide's perfume, save yourself from me because negation touched my body.

Your soul is tired but you are tall in the fatigue: you speak to extinguished gods.

There is no resemblance in you: there is infection and fire in your tongue and purity is your sickness.

You climb to a place of hawthorns; you touch the edge of sundown.

You are unhurried like substances made for sweetness. There is no resemblance in you.

I've put days in my eyes and my actions are of the color of resin in deep places.

I could only see light in the rooms of death.

(excerpt from pages 33–35)

Grass like silence. Grass crossed by insects stubborn in mirth.

This rest that never ends under sunlit pages... Watch over the grass.

This is the light accumulated by the deceased and codices attributed to incest, to stories of fugitive animals.

Everything is mortal in serenity; there is a country for the disillusioned

and its vision as white as the drug of eternity.

You, in the pantry of hybrids, you open the book of envy, you read the electric cantos learned from your brothers, you are blue in indignity.

My future lives in regret. Before your empty bowls my future is a follower of insects.

And the heart grows heavy in worn out works.

What do you know of the lie? Under the scab of weariness, in the hives of cowardice,

a distinguished metal, a bunch of burned fingernails

dig deep into death. It is the passion of uselessness;

it is the happiness of masks gathered in study of grass, green and coveted in estuaries of shadow,

singular conciliated species, singular and resistant to the skill of memory, to the censure of tired men; fresh like the scream of a lark under waters.

O the lie in the heart emptied by an invisible knife.

(excerpt from page 40)

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting


Sara Gilmore grew up in Minnesota and now lives in Spain, where she works as a commercial translator. She holds an MFA in literary translation from the University of Iowa and is an editor at Anomalous PressAnomalous Press. She is currently working on two different manuscripts of translation/poetry, and recently started this website, which is still under construction.

This page was first displayed
on November 09, 2011

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