Spotlight: Routines in Cell 43

[translated fiction]

(Readable as a loop, beginning with any paragraph)

The rod rings out in the emptiness to remind me of my exile. I inhale the damp air and the invasive scent of my own misery. It was a long time ago that I took my leave of the apathy inherent to incomprehension and fear. Ignorance as to my fate must be agony for those I love, those I long for. Now, everything is just a hazy cloud as I maintain my neural circuits through the exercise of routine.

They’ll come for me tonight or some other night, or maybe months will go by before a droplet of coffee on the list of prisoners will call the guard’s attention to my name. He will, perhaps, remember that I was once famous (ephemerally so, but famous nonetheless) for my incendiary articles against the corrupt regime that has just retaken power. My name is common and it appears frequently in telephone books, like anyone born into the class of serfs. My name, singled out by the coffee’s chromatic union, will reawaken doubts, the precursor to suspicions, and then they’ll come for me that same night, or some other, or maybe days will have gone by and I won’t even remember what I thought today, anesthetized by routine as I am, alienated by incomprehension as I am, paralyzed by fear as I am.

The rod rings out. Screams can be heard at the end of the corridor. One might guess they were from Thomas, the young man from the antipodes caught far from home by the invasion. He’s been refusing to eat these past few days. Now our jailers take their fury out on his body with an obsessive tenacity. They revel in the torture, both his and ours, and each of Thomas’s screams may just be a prelude to another one of his, or Andrés’s, or Raúl’s, or Cosme’s, or my own. My own scream.

It makes no difference what my name is. It makes no difference whether what I’m telling is a universal truth or simply my own. Who knows? I tell what comes to my mind, and one can do nothing but remember one’s own past, near or distant, with a wide variety of nuances and suffering. I attempt to memorize facts and occurrences, making connections between the two, permanently joining them in a kind of infinite mantra, into a helicoidal thread that closes on itself. I attempt it even though I know that most of the vectors I trace will be doomed to failure, that my memory will automatically, repeatedly betray me with spurious associations, with loops of images and signs, with words linked to impossible moments, with daylong, month-long gaps. I have no doubt about that, yet I obstinately persist in my labors, because even the smallest piece of information, even the most insignificant of details could, in some future moment, lead to a chain reaction of memory, a fusion of neural circuits heretofore uncoupled, a supernova of joy.

To organize routines. What’s important now is to organize routines. In order to stop myself becoming desperate, what’s most important now is to organize routines. (Hourly routines, daily routines, weekly routines, nightly routines repeated day after day). Searching within the circular rhythm of routines for some measurement of time and some occupation with which to stave off desperation, and perplexity, and fear of not being, or being no longer, or being someone else. Eight minutes past midnight. Time to close my eyes, count to ten, and begin reciting the verses I learned as a child (Monday), the poetry I composed as an adolescent (Tuesday), the aphorisms passed down to me by my teacher (Wednesday), the songs of my youth (Thursday), the poems of my adulthood (Friday), and the letters I never wrote (Saturday), concluding with the monologues I’ve rehearsed a thousand times (Sunday). Routines I use to attain the formal sophistication of repetition, the anesthesia of advancing in slow motion. Routines to feel the ground beneath my feet, to gradually construct (reconstruct) a dream full of hope and freedom.

The rod rings out. Screams can be heard at the end of the corridor. The screams too are routine. They always sound identical to every other scream coming from the same person. Thomas’s scream. Cosme’s scream. Andrés’s. Mine. What does my scream sound like? Piercing? Ear-splitting? Quaking? Icy? To unleash a different scream for each wound, for each occasion, for each method of torture. A muffled scream for the cattle prod. A piercing scream for the rod. A blind scream for the sleepless nights under the lamp’s gaze, my eyelids forced to stay open. An icy scream for the nights watching snow fall in the immeasurable solitude of the plains. A leopard scream for when they come at my knees, for when they opt for the humiliation of urinating on me, for when they slander my ancestors or mock my loved ones, the ones who are still alive, my people, my kith and kin.

No one has told me (or us, from what I hear) why they brought us here, why they keep us locked up all day, why they sometimes let us out at night to engage in Argentinian style hunting. They came armed and in droves, destroying everything in their wake, instilling a culture of fear and barbarism. Now they control it all, every single thing, with a haughty air in their ways and an ambiguity in their messages. They made of violence their banner and their way of life. No one has told me (or us, from what I don’t hear) what they expect from us, what they want us to tell them, what we’ve done wrong. They never interrogate us. They never say a word to us except to convey their confusing orders, or which are at least confusing to us, as if they’d come out of some strange magma, out of a language we should understand, but only becomes more and more foreign with each passing day, a mixture of soldier’s jargon and obscenities befitting of a brothel.

Maybe they won’t come for me tonight. Yes, it’s best to think like that and not shrivel up like a pangolin armed with its plate-like scales. It’s cold. What these louts save on heating in the passageways they spend on whiskey and pleasure women. Here comes the moralistic murmuring, the mumbling of a failed missionary, of a waning man who takes refuge in iron discipline to maintain himself, this romantic hero buried in excess, this martyr for a vague cause with no followers, Unitarian in his militancy, in a losing position before the battle has even begun. It’s impossible to sleep caged in by these recurring thoughts, denying my external reality, the others’ reality, subsuming oneself in an autumnal retraction of deposits and wrinkles to the point of renouncing one’s senses, lost in a labyrinth of words that come flooding in, that hammer on one’s temples in a waterfall of symbols, that prevent one from getting to sleep (sleep is gotten, gathered, joined together through bits of consciousness: sleep is, therefore, a dreamlike puzzle, a dreamlike, improvised jazz set, a dreamlike cracked mirror that reflects one’s persistent insomnia, that diverts the lightning bolt, that trembles in all its recurrence).

A blind scream for the sleepless nights. Is this the moment? It’s over now, the rod’s diversion, the farcical humiliation, the hyperbolic laughter drowning out the victim’s screams, the wretched object of their abuses. The guards went away leaving behind what’s left of the martyr bleeding in the “reading room.” That’s what they call it, with their poorly disguised irony: the reading room. “This is where we read your thoughts. This is where we listen to whispered stories. This is where we build up the tale of public shame. This is where we strip away the best poetry you have inside you.”

My eyelids, my legs, my arms are heavy, my back is sinking into the mattress, causing my joints to cry out in an anguished desire for rest, but my thoughts, my wretched thoughts, my wretched self, rebelling in its consciousness, won’t stop for even an instant: words galloping over images, sounds over a language from the farthest reaches of my consciousness, images over sounds, shattering in a thousand planes simultaneously, drawing up and vanishing with no respite, tracing a four-dimensional, no, five-dimensional map with chromatic shifts, fades to black, sideways wipes, kaleidoscopic images, intermingling sounds, multilingual messages, and outrageous associations.

To organize routines. What’s important is to organize routines. In order to avoid becoming desperate, what’s most important now is to organize routines. (Hourly routines, daily routines, weekly routines, nightly routines repeated day after day.) Now, at night, counting stars. Real stars (rare here, the clouds dominate the sky for half the year, along with half of the other half) and dreamt ones (white dwarves, brown giants, novas, supernovas, shooting stars). Doing it for as long as it takes to make it across the known galaxies, the familiar constellations, every possible combination. After the stars, with a current sliding along my spine and my temples hammering from the excess, then comes the time to practice the relaxation exercises I learned from my teacher, to envision idealized images of sexual idols, and engage in the most violent kind of self-stimulation.

I try to slowly accumulate dreams, I imagine reiterated landscapes from my childhood, from when we would play amongst the bamboo thickets and be slippery vietcong, crawling through the stalks and stoically enduring the suffocating summer heat. In those days, the map of Vietnam filled up the black-and-white TV screen, and that’s how we learned where the Hoi Lin Mountains were, which have an outrageous amount of snowfall every seven years, along with the rivers surrounding the imperial capital of Hué, where the battles never ended, children running naked as they fled from the napalm, Ho-Chi-Minh Way destroyed; he, the whitebeard who became a model for the grandfather I never had. I reconstruct my nights sleeping in sickly quarters, where everything smelled like stables and ethical misery, where they prohibited us from being ourselves, where they counted us dozens of times each day to see if anyone had run away, as if there were anywhere to run in that massive plain frozen during the winters and sunken in a humid fog during the summers. I remember the years spent at boundless sea, waves stampeding over the bridge, the ship at the mercy of the currents and furious hurricanes. I think about the years I wasted chasing impossible loves, in a repetitive denial of myself, sobbing daily in front of the mirror reflecting an image of progressive degeneration. Every now and again I wake up sweating in the midst of a bout of malaria that I caught in the jungles of Cambodia, where I was searching for a treasure I never found, where I went through hunger, torture, and scarcity that I was only able to endure because of my youth and the strength I’d inherited from my forebears. I thread together sequences which approach in disorderly fashion: landscapes and information, perceptions and subjections, characters and plots, instants pulled from an internal camera that stores away undeveloped photographs, fantastical frames, and never-before-seen compositions combining all kinds of colors and shapes. Then, from the labyrinths of memory, come the cold barrel of the machine gun pressed against my neck, my ears frozen from walking the whole night to cross the border, my toes bleeding from stepping on glass when they came for us, the memory of the first time I spoke in public, pronouncing slogans that would make me blush now, or the afternoon when someone showed me how to gather shrimp from the rocks on a beach during low tide, or the other when I skipped an English class to learn the art of handling a scythe, or that time when a friend of mine named one hundred birds in one breath and I responded with one hundred sea and river fishes, to the delight of the rest of our group, who drank to our health and bet beers on who would win. In my memory I sketch out the passageways I slid along in dreams, which would lead always to an octagonal tower where each wall had a door ready to take me to a different world, which is how I learned about the flora and fauna of different time periods and why certain species survive, seeping through the gap as a door opened so that I could then enter a new, parallel world. In the air I trace dreamt or invented calligrams, ones they taught me in school or ones that I learned over the passage of time, alphabets that mark turning points in my life, a life no longer qualifiable as short. I try to organize my dreams to see if I can sleep, but dreams don’t allow themselves to be organized and classified so easily. They don’t come when you want and you always end up remembering your obsessions and forgetting about them, except the ones that have repeated over and over again since the moment you’ve been conscious of your recollection and organization: the dream about the lighthouse, the dream about the chapel in the dark, the dream about sex opening up into two cavernous bodies, the dream of enucleated eyes, the dream of reclusion, which has come true exactly as you’d dreamt it, and now seems more like a premonition than a dream. Dreams of the rod’s return, ones where screams can be heard, ones where nostalgia takes over me, ones where I take refuge in my routines.

No one has told me (or us, from what I don’t hear) what they expect from us, what they want us to tell them, what we’ve done wrong. They came armed and in droves as if they’d fallen from the sky or risen from the bowels of the earth, using their lethal weapons to devastate everything in their wake. They controlled the communications, transport, and commerce, and quickly began a random campaign of explosive detonations. They toy with the ambiguity in messages and the fear spawned by uncertainty. They never interrogate us. No one explains (nor am I myself capable of explaining) how I can go entire days without sleeping, feverish, consumed by the thousand ideas that attack me and retreat, rotting my insides and fighting to escape their fluid prison out of a desire to become solid, concrete, actualized.

The rod is back. Screams can be heard at the end of the corridor, in the “reading room.” They enjoy bursting open the wet skin. Thomas’s scream. Cosme’s scream. Andrés’s scream. My scream. A leopard scream for when they come at my knees. No one has said why they brought us here. What’s important is to organize routines. No one why they play Argentinian hunting games with us. Maybe they won’t come for me tonight. It’s best to think like that and not curl up like a plated pangolin.

My eyelids, legs, and arms are heavy, my back is digging into the mattress, causing my joints to cry out for a break, but my thoughts, my wretched self, which rebels by being conscious, will not stop for even an instant, with a flood of words over images, images over sounds shattering on a thousand planes simultaneously, tracing a four-, no, five-dimensional map with chromatic shifts, fades-to-black, sideways wipes, kaleidoscopic images, fusing sounds, plurilingual messages, and outrageous associations.

…It is in this emptiness that the rod rings out to remind me of my exile. I inhale the damp air and the acrid stench of my own ethical misery. It was long ago that I escaped from the apathy inherent to incomprehension and fear. The ignorance of my fate must be a torment for those who I love and long for. Everything is just a hazy cloud as I maintain myself through the exercise of routine. They’ll come for me tonight, or some other night.

I try to memorize events and information, linking them together, joining them forever in a kind of infinite mantra, in a helicoidal belt that closes on itself. I attempt it even though I know that the majority of vectors I trace will be doomed to failure, that my memory will automatically, repeatedly fail me with spurious associations, with loops of images and symbols, with words that will combine into impossible moments, with daylong, month-long gaps.

It’s impossible to sleep caged in by these recurring thoughts, denying my external reality, the others’ reality, sinking myself into an autumnal retraction of deposits and wrinkles until I renounce my senses, lost in a labyrinth of words that come flooding in, hammering my temples with a waterfall of symbols, permanently preventing me from falling asleep.

 

 

Rutinas na cela 43

(Pódese ler en bucle, comezando con calquera párrafo)

É no baleiro que resoa o vergallo para me devolver a conciencia do exilio. Respiro o aire húmido e o recendo invasor da miña propia miseria. Hai tempo saín da apatía propia da incompensión e o medo. A ignorancia da miña sorte será tormento para outros aos que quero e xa estraño. Para min xa só é unha nube imprecisa mentres sosteño os meus circuítos co exercicio da rutina.

Virán por min esta noite ou a outra, ou se cadra pasarán meses ata que unha pinga de café caída encol dunha lista de prisioneiros atraia a atención do oficial de garda sobre o meu nome. Recordará, se cadra, que en tempos fun famoso (de modo efémero, mais famoso) polos meus artigos incediarios contra o réxime corrupto que agora vén de retornar ao poder. O meu nome é vulgar e repítese nas listas de teléfono, coma todos aqueles nados de estirpe de servos da gelba. O meu nome, illado pola confluencia cromátic do café, fará acordar dúbidas, antesala das sospeitas, e daquela virán por min esa mesma noite, ou a outra , ou se cadra cando teñan pasado días e non lembre xa o que hoxe penso, anestesiado pola rutina, alienado pola incomprensión, paralizado polo medo.

Resoa o vergallo. Óense berros ao fondo do corredor. Diríase que son de Thomas, ese mozo dos antípodas ao que a invasión colleu lonxe de casa. Tense negado a comer nos últimos días. Agora os carcereiros asáñanse na súa pel con tenacidade obsesiva. Recréanse na tortura, na súa e na nosa, porque cada berro de Thomas pode ser preludio dun berro propio, de Andrés ou de Raúl, de Cosme ou meu. O meu berro.

Que importa como é que eu me chamo, que importa mesmo se o que conto é verdade universal ou só a miña verdade. Quen o sabe? Conto o que me vén ao maxín, e un só lembra o pasado, o pasado próximo e o afastado, con variedade de matices e padecemento. Tento memorizar datas e sucesos, relacionalos entre si, unilos para sempre nunha especie de mantra infinito, nunha fita helicoidal que se pecha sobre si mesma. Inténtoo aínda que sei que a meirande parte dos vectores trazados estarán condenados ao fracaso, que a memoria me traizoará, repetida e mecanicamente, con asociacións espurias, con bucles de imaxes e de signos, con verbas que se asociarán a momentos imposíbeis, con lagos de días ou de meses. Seino, mais testán persisto no empeño, pois o máis mínimo dato, o detalle máis insignificante pode, nun instante futuro, facer acordar unha reacción en cadea, unha fusión de circuítos outrora separados, unha supernova de ledicia.

Ordenar as rutinas. O importante é ordenar as rutinas. Para non desesperar, o máis importante é ordenar as rutinas. (Rutinas horarias, rutinas cotiás, rutinas semanais, rutinas cotinocturnas). Procurar no ritmo circular das rutinas a medida do tempo e a ocupación que me afaste da desesperación, da perplexidade, do terror a non ser ou a deixar de ser, ou a ser outro. Oito minutos pasada a media noite. Tempo de pechar os ollos, de contar ata dez, de comezar o recitado dos versos aprendidos cando neno (luns), dos versos inventados cando mozo (martes), dos aforismos transmitidos polo mestre (mércores), das cancións da mocidade (xoves), dos poemas da idade adulta (venres), das cartas que nunca escribín (sábado), para rematar cos monólogos mil veces ensaiados (domingo). Rutinas para acadar a sofisticación formal do repetitivo, a anestesia dos avances ao ralentí. Rutinas para sentir o chan baixo os pés, para construir (reconstruir) devagar o soño da esperanza da liberdade.

Resoa o vergallo. Óense berros ao fondo do corredor. Os berros son tamén rutina. Soan sempre igual a outros berros do mesmo dono. O berro de Thomas. O berro de Cosme. O de Andrés. O meu berro. Como soa o meu berro? Lacerante? Estentóreo? Trepidante? Xélido? Ensaiar un berro distinto para cada ferida, para cada ocasión, para cada método de tortura. Un berro afogada para a picana. Un berro lacerante para o vergallo. Un berro cego para as noites sen durmir, enfocado pola lámpada, coas pálpebras forzadas e abertas. Un berro xélido para as noites vendo caer a neve na soidade inabarcábel da chaira. Un berro leopardo para cando me paseen de xeonllos, para cando me humillen mexando por riba de min, para cando insulten os meus antepasados ou se mofen dos seres máis queridos, dos vivos, dos meus.

Ninguén me ten dito (ninguén dixo, segundo contan) por que nos trouxeran aquí, por que nos manteñen pechados o día enteiro, por que ás veces nos liberan de noite para organizar cacerías de facón e boleadoras. Chegaran en mesnadas arrasando ao seu paso con todo o que topaban, instaurando a cultura do medo e a barbarie. Agora contrólano todo, absolutamente todo, con aire de suficiencia nas formas e ambigüidade nas mensaxes. Fixeron da violencia a súa bandeira e o seu xeito de vivir. Ninguén me ten dito (ninguén dixo, segundo calan) qué esperan de nós, qué queren que contemos, cál é a nosa falta. Endexamais nos interrogan. Endexamais nos dirixen a palabra se non é para enunciar ordes confusas, ou que, cando menos, nós concibimos coma confusas, como chegadas dun magma estraño, nunha lingua que deberiamos entender mais que de día en día resulta máis allea, unha mestura de argot cuarteleiro e de exabruptos de casa de tolerancia.

Quizais esta noite non veñan por min. Si, será mellor pensar así e non se engurrar coma un pangolín, armado de escamas e de placas. Vai frío. Estes cachimáns aforran en calefacción nas galerías o que eles gastan en whisky e mais en bacantes. Regresa o ruxerruxe moralista, o rumor de misioneiro fracasado, de home minguante que se refuxia nunha férrea disciplina para soster, cal heroe romántico abismado nos excesos, cal mártir dunha causa difusa, negada de adeptos, unitaria na súa militancia, unha posición perdida de antemán. É imposíbel durmir cercado por estes pensamentos recorrentes, negando a realidade exterior, a realidade dos outros, ensumíndose en retracción outonal de depósitos e engurras ata renunciar os sentidos, perdido nun labirinto de verbas que acoden en fervenza, que martelan as tempas en cadoiro de signos, que impiden conciliar o sono (o sono concíliase, xúntase, únese a partir de anacos de conciencia: o sono e xa logo o soño crebacabezas, o soño partitura de jazz improvisada, o soño espello cos rachaduras que reflicte o negado na vixilia, que desvía o lóstrego, que conmove na súa recorrencia).

Un berro cego para as noites sen durmir. Será este o momento? Parou xa a festa do vergallo, a farse das humillacións, as risas esaxeradas que afogaban os berros da vítima, do desgraciado albo de servicias. Retíranse os gardados deixando os despoxos do mártir desangrándose na “sala de lectura”. Chámalle así, con sorna mal disimulada: a sala de lectura. “Aquí lemos os vosos pensamentos, aquí escoitamos historias musitadas, aquí construímos o relato da infamia, aquí espimos a mellor poesía que hai en vós.”

Pésanme as pálpebras, as pernas, os brazos, as costas afúndense no xergón facendo soar as articulacións na procura angustiada de descanso; mais o pensamento, o maldito pensamento, o eu maldito, que se rebela consciente, non se detén nin un só instante, cabalga palabras sobre imaxes, sons sobre verbas chegadas do alén da consciencia, imaxes sobre sons, estoupa en mil planos ao unísono, deseña e esfuma sen acougo, trazando un mapa en catro dimensións, en cinco, con saltos cromáticos, con fundidos en negro, con varridos laterais, con imaxes en calidoscopio, con sons que se fusionan, con mensaxes multilingües, con asociacións inauditas.

Ordenar as rutinas. O importante é ordenar as rutinas. Para non desesperar, o máis importante é ordenar as rutinas. (Rutinas horarias, rutinas cotiás, rutinas semanais, rutinas cotinocturnas.) Agora, pola noite, contar as estrelas. Estrelas verdadeiras (case nunca, aquí, as nubes enseñran do ceo medio ano e a metade do outro medio) e estrelas soñadas (ananas brancas, xigantes marróns, novas, supernovas, estrelas fugaces). Así durante o tempo que leve percorrer as galaxias coñecidas, as constelacións familiares, as combinacións posíbeis. Despois das estrelas, cunha corrente percorrendo o espiñazo e as tempas latexando polos excesos, chega o momento de ensaiar os exercicios de relaxación aprendidos do mestre, as imaxes idealizadas dos ídolos sexuais, a autoestimulación máis violenta.

Xogo a unha lenta acumulación de soños, imaxino as paisaxes reiteradas da nenez, cando xogabamos entre as matas de bambú a ser vietcongs escorregadizos, reptando entre as canas e soportando estoicos a calor abafante do verán. Daquela o mapa de Vietnam enchía a pantalla do aparello de televisor en branco e negro, e alí aprendemos onde ficaban as montañas de Hoi Lin, onde un ano de cada sete cae unha nevarada de escándalo, os ríos que cercan a capital imperial de Hué, a da batalla sen fin, os nenos correndo espidos mentres foxen do napalm, a rota Ho-Chi-Minh, que coa súa barbicha abrancazada pasou a ser modelo do avó que non tiven. Reconstrúo as noites durmindo nunha caserna infecta, onde todo cheiraba a corte e a miseria ética, onde nos prohibían ser nós mesmos, onde nos contaban ducias de veces no día por ver se algún fuxira, coma se houbese a onde fuxir, naquela chaira conxelada no inverno e somerxida no verán nunha néboa tépeda. Lembro os anos pasados no medio do mar inmenso cos vagallóns a cabalgar por riba da ponte de mando, co navío a mercé das correntes e da furia dos furacáns. Penso nos anos que perdín na procura de amores imposíbeis, na reiterada negación do eu ser, no pranto cotián diante do espello que reflectía a imaxe da dexeneración progresiva. Acordo a cada tanto suando no medio dunha crise da malaria que atrapei nas selvas de Camboxa, cando procuraba un tesouro que xamais encontrei, cando pasei fame, tortura e privacións que só a miña idade moza e a forteleza herdada dos antepasados me permitiran soportar. Fío secuencias que se achegan en desorde de datas e paisaxes, de percepción e suxeito, de protagonista e argumento; instantes coma enfoques dunha cámara interna, que acumula fotos sen facer, encadres fantásticos, composicións nunca antes visitadas, combinatorias de cores e de formas. Daquela chegan dos labirintos da memoria, o frío do cano da metralladora encol da caluga, as orellas xeadas camiñando a noite toda para atravesar a fronteira, as dedas sangrando logo de camiñar sobre vidros cando entraran por nós, a lembranza da primeira vez que falei en público repetindo consignas que hoxe farían que arrubiase, aquela tarde na que alguén me ensinou a coller camaróns nas rochas dunha praia en baixamar, ou aquela outra onde mudei unha clase de inglés pola arte de manexar a gadaña, ou naquela na que un meu amigo nomeou de corrido cen paxaros e eu respondín con cen peixes de mar e de río, para ledicia dos demais membros do grupo, que bebían á nosa saúde e apostaban cervexas por ver quen ganaba. Bosquexo na memorias as galerías polas que esvaraba en soños, que sempre ían dar a unha torre octogonal, na que cada parede tiña unha porta que levaba con certeza a un mundo distinto, que foi así como me aprenderan a fauna e a flora das eras diferentes e a razón da persistencia das especies, que se coaran por unha físgoa mentres unha porta se abría para logo entrar noutro mundo paralelo. Trazo no aire caligramas inventados ou soñados, que me ensinaran na escola ou que aprendín no paso do tempo, alfabetos que demarcan xeiras na miña vida, xa non curta. Xogo a ordenar os soños por ver se son quen de durmir, mais os soños non se deixan ordenar e clasificar, non acoden cando queres e sempre rematas por lembrar obsesións e esquecer os soños, agás aqueles que se repiten unha e outra vez dende que es consciente da súa recolección e ordenamento: o soño do faro, o soño da capela ás escuras, o soño do sexo abríndose polos corpos cavernosos, o soño dos ollos enucleados, o soño da reclusión, que agora é tan verdade, tanto como a tiñas soñado, que semella máis unha premonición que un soño. Soños cando regresa o vergallo, cando se escoitan os berros, cando me invade a nostalxia, cando me refuxia nas rutinas.

Ninguén ten dito (ninguén nos dixo, segundo calan) que esperan de nós, que pretenden que lles contemos, cal é a nosa falta. Chegaran en mesnadas como caídos do ceo ou xurdindo das entrañas da terra, arrasando coas súas armas mortíferas todo o que atopaban ao seu paso. Controlaran as comunicacións, os transportes e o comercio, comezando axiña unha campaña de detencións aleatoria. Xogan coa ambigüidade das mensaxes e o medo que xera a incerteza. Endexamais nos interrogan. Ninguén explica (eu non son quen de me explicar) como podo pasar días enteiros sen durmir, con febre, consumido por mil ideas que me asaltan e regresan, que me corroen as entrañas e loitan por escapar do seu cárcere de fluídos, que se queren sólidos, concretas, realizadas…

Regresa o vergallo. Óense berros no fondo do corredor, na “sala de lectura”. Recréanse no estralar sobre a pel mollada. O berro de Thomas. O berro de Cosme. O berro de Andrés. O meu berro. Un berro leopardo para cando me paseen de xeonllos. Ninguén dixo por que nos trouxeran aquí. Resoa o vergallo. Xamais nos interrogan. O importante é ordenar as rutinas. Ninguén por que na noite organizan cacerías de boleadoras e derribo. Quizais esta noite non veñan por min. Será mellor pensar así e non se engurrar coma pangolín en placas.

Pésanme as pálpebras, as pernas, os brazos, as costas afúndense no xergón facendo soar as articulacións na procura do descanso; mais o pensamento, o eu maldito, que se rebela consciente, non se detén nin un só instante, cabalga palabras sobre imaxes, imaxes sobre sons, estoupa en mil planos ao unísono, trazando un mapa en catro dimensións, en cinco, con saltos cromáticos, con fundidos en negro, con varridos laterais, con imaxes en calidoscopio, con sons que se fusionan, con mensaxes plurilingües, con asociacións inauditas.

…É no baleiro onde resoa o vergallo para me devolver a conciencia do exilio. Respiro o aire húmido e o cheiro acre da miña propia miseria ética. Hai tempo que saín da apatía propia da incomprensión e o medo. A ignorancia da miña sorte será tormento para outros aos que quero e xa estraño. Para min é só unha nube imprecisa mentres me sosteño co exercicio da rutina. Virán por min esta noite, ou a outra.

Tento memorizar datas e sucesos, relacionalos entre si, unilos para sempre nunha especie de mantra infinito, nunha cinta helicoidal que se pecha sobre si mesma. Inténtoo aínda que sei que a meirande parte dos vectores trazados estarán condenados ao fracaso, que a memoria me traizoará, repetida e mecanicamente, con asociacións espurias, con bucles de imaxes e de signos, con verbos que se asociarán a momentos imposíbeis, con lagoas de días ou de meses.

É imposíbel durmir cercado por estes pensamentos recorrentes, negando a realidade exterior, a realidade dos outros, ensumíndome en retracción outonal de depósitos e engurras ata renunciar aos sentidos, perdido nun labirinto de verbas que acoden a cachón, que martelan as tempas en cadoiro de signos, que impiden conciliar o soño.

 

Jacob Rogers is a translator of Galician prose and poetry based in Spain. His translations have appeared in Asymptote, PRISM International, Cagibi, Your Impossible Voice, Nashville Review, The Brooklyn Rail InTranslation, and the Portico of Galician Literature, with work forthcoming in Best European Fiction 2019. His translation of Carlos Casares’ novel, His Excellency, came out from Small Stations Press in 2017. More of Xavier Queipo’s work is forthcoming from Copper Nickel in the fall, with an anthology of his stories slated for publication by Small Stations Press in 2021.

Xavier Queipo is a Galician writer based in Brussels, Belgium. He has published nearly twenty books, ranging from fiction to poetry, to children’s literature, as well as essays. He has won several prizes for his novels, including the Spanish Critics Prize in 1991, for The Arctic, and Other Seas, and the Blanco Amor Prize in 2015 for his most recent novel, Os Kowa. His work has been translated into English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese, and he was one of the four collaborators on the 2013 award-winning translation of Ulysses into Galician.