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Wasted light in the dimension of your eyes

Three poems by Natalia Litvinova
Tuesday 26 May 2015

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Natalia Litvinova was born in 1986 in Gomel, Belarus, and currently lives in Argentina. She is a poet and a translator. She gives courses at the Argentine Foundation Center for Psychoanalysis. She has published: Esteparia (Steppe-Woman, 2010), Balbuceo de la noche (Babble of Night, 2012) Grieta (Crack, 2012), and Todo ajeno (Stage of strangeness, 2013) all of which have been republished in Spain and Latin America. Among the poets she has translated from the Russian are Sergei Esenin, Vladislav Jodasevich, Zinaida Gippius, Cherubina de Gabriak and Innokenti Anneski.

The Last Waist

After years of perfectly drawn blueprints
mi mother ended up mending other people’s clothes.
One day John showed up with his leukemia.
He wanted a pair of pants to be taken in. He was getting thinner.
Every time he came, I would cover my mouth.
I wanted to throw myself over his body.
Five reduced pants for the five versions
of John’s waist. You were lime white,
wasted light in the dimension of your eyes.
But your lips, red, as if all your blood was summoned there.
I saw you last when you brought your sixth pair of pants
which I ruined weeping myself to sleep on them.
The following morning when I saw my mother her eyes
were made of crystal. She was behind the sewing machine,
glowing under the faint rays of the sun, sitting
next to those wrinkled, shameless, ownerless clothes.

La última cintura

Después de años de planos trazados a la perfección,
mi madre terminó remendando ropa ajena.
Un día apareció Juan y su leucemia.
Trajo pantalones para achicar. Había adelgazado.
Cada vez que venía, yo me tapaba la boca.
Quería arrojarme encima de su cuerpo.
Cinco pantalones reducidos para las cinco versiones
de la cintura de Juan. Eras blanco cal,
la luz desperdiciada en la dimensión de tus ojos.
Pero tus labios rojos, como si toda tu sangre se congregara allí.
La última vez que te vi fue cuando trajiste el sexto pantalón
y yo lo destrocé sollozando hasta quedarme dormida.
A la mañana siguiente encontré a mi madre
con los ojos cristalizados. Detrás de la máquina de coser.
Iluminada por los débiles rayos del sol.
Al lado de toda esa ropa arrugada, indecente, sin dueño.


He wrote to tell me his dog had died.
I wanted to be her, I wanted him to cry for me, to hug me.
I fall. I stretch my legs. The detachment of the spirit
is like a sedative.
Life slips away in a succession of images.
Streets. Nights. The danger of passing by cars.
Before dying, the stars give out their last glitter
to the puddles.

La perra

Me escribió para decirme que su perra murió.
Quise ser su perra para que me llore y abrace.
Caigo. Extiendo las patas. El desprendimiento del espíritu
como un calmante.
La vida se escurre en una sucesión de imágenes.
Calles. Noches. El peligro de los autos.
Antes de morir, las estrellas entregan su último resplandor
a los charcos.


Today I dreamt I dialed any number and you answered.
I told you I was naked and that someone was after me.
You told me to hang up, and that nobody should get hold of me.
You are getting older in my dreams, the snow colors your hair white.
You are staring at the tired body of a rat
unable to make its way through the ice.
You don’t know whether to push it towards the flakes of death
or towards the coffins of snow.


Hoy soñé que marcaba un teléfono cualquiera y me atendías.
Te dije que estaba desnuda y que alguien corría tras de mí.
Me respondiste que colgara, y que nadie debía alcanzarme.
Estás envejeciendo en mis sueños, la nieve te dibuja canas.
Mirás el cuerpo cansado de una rata
que no puede hacer camino a través del hielo.
No sabés si patearla hacia los copos de la muerte
o hacia los ataúdes de la nieve.

(from “Todo ajeno”; Vaso roto, 2013)
Translated by Daniela Camozzi


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