Ana Arzoumanian

Everything started with a lie,
Puffs of stink in the hands,
combustion of blows
in the country emptied out of bodies;
religious stroke
of disinfection.

Dash out in long steps,
grandma, run,
don’t turn back,
they are there, run,
they’re watching you;
to the other side, pretend,
now pretend, don’t scream,
who would help you now
if it’s only you
to play;
ease off that thing inside, be patient,
they are only bodies
threatening you, guarding you,
only bodies
squashing and packing.
Like a slave without master
who implores not,
who has nobody
to pray,
be patient and forget;
soon the last one will be at bay,finally burned the last one
and you’ll be dead.
Don’t try to put your legs together,
already off, don’t you see?,
although they’ve shaken
the olive-coloured skin of fury,
don’t be restless, you see
little by little nothing’s left,
keep yourself in the fingers,
stay inert,
keep the strangulation of nails,
and don’t play dead;
it’s the same,
it’ll be the same, now
I’ll be the substitute, grandma,
who expresses herself in your omitted place,
who plays your role in my throat.

Did you see the grimace?
Did the rumpus have teeth eyes,
that thing peeled hitting you, convulsive
batch of sperm?
Like this, without broom
your nuptial pubes,
without blade
fresh of desire,
so harmless, so fearful;
don’t cry, grandma,
every three hours they harden
my breasts pain, pains
the shriek of your hunger calling me,
the thirst of washing yourself in blood
inside me.

You tried to fool them,
kept your breasts
under a long shirt,
your hips under baggy trousers,put on your brother’s shoes.
You wanted to avoid, escaped.
But they stood in your way,
they swore by their blood
to water with semen the mad land,
and they caught you, didn’t believe
in the drive of your buttocks,
in your pubis coming,
which inexhaustible, you postponed.
Their eyes crossed
and you couldn’t get away; like this,
mad they crowed together
copious, like this, in contortions
the guillotine rose in-between their legs.
Later, you fixed your waist, your hair,
like one standing up
from a lover’s couch;
but then you had no clothes,
no one to lend you a skirt,
no ribbon for your head
now that you fool no one,
now that everybody knows and I look at you,
and I don’t take my eyes off,
now that I look tired of looking.

After the scene
they threw your clothes into a dump,
and you, almost without realising,
fall asleep.
After the scene
you surrendered
the belly, its linear crack,
your domestic pubes
in-between the thighs.
A sleepwalker
who feels no more the rip,
a sleepwalker sleeps
in the children’s room, walks in corset;
moves around the house
with his tongue inside,
with his tongue grinding the teeth.
She would be ashamed, that blush
of who has something to lose,
if she had a visage.But in that house
she walks with eyes
splashed by little drops with no light,
darker than the absence of light,
darker, more viscous.
After the scene, others
defiled, stuck
her body, her clothes on a little lace
on the rope in the family house patio
on the rope in the terrace patio
the terrace that looked into a blind alley,
and the tongue inside,
and a flat discus; your face
a flat discus that could be used to fling,
a discus of athletes, gladiators,
a discus that would go faster
as faster thrown,
a circular sheet of stone or metal,
a wafer, a plate,
things repeated many times,
things like larvae, sutures,
fetid constriction of visage.

You couldn’t go back without food;
it was better to sneak away,
better to hide anywhere
and see blood running
like the neck of a chicken,
to see through blood
the clucking of the chicken’s neck
as when you were a child;
to see that thing frowning, writhing
something bending and swirling,
a cohort of evilness, an army
of furious deformed voices,
and the head like a glove
inside out
and the blood which runs splashing
your skirt empty of food, empty
of chances to go back.
Then, so that they hear not,
so as to erase your mark,
because you couldn’t go back without food,
I’ll say it straight, grandma,
you walked blind
like an acrobat
pirouetting on the tightrope, blind,
because there was no one, for nothing your steps
the silence and to breathe fresh air in the box seat,
for nothing that kind of pulpit
where to measure your feet,
to raise your hair towards the lights thinking
“look what a pirouette, observe such skills”;
I’ll say it straight, grandma,
the circus is empty,
now it’s me who picks up
from your white panties little diamonds
which made its cavity iridescent
from below.

And the other blood
which runs not,
which smells the acid
of women
whose blood runs not.
The suture of their legs,
its sharp stiffness, something
mutilated invisible on the sand,
on the sand to the sea,
to the sea that swallows the ship;
on the sand of exile dissolving
drinking jars with moles,
and the air overcast, concave,
shovelfuls in the breath, pushing
dragging shabby dresses
of women
whose blood
runs not.

Death isn’t quiet,
makes noise the trigger noise the plate.
For her, death makes noise
like a scourer rubbing
its stiff roughness.
Then she sings,
sings to hear not;
it’s easy for her
to stroll with the orchestra,
with all the tightened shouting.
But then it rises, begins,
makes noise, groans the outcry,
and she sings to hear not
the uninhibited breath, the roar
of doleful mothers,
blusterous accumulation of steel.
She sings la-la-la
the shot on the neck the temples.
If they force her, it’s easy
not to hear the blow from a stone,
therefore she sings and sings
under the compressed tide of her voice
to drown death
in vaults.

She decided not to get older,
anyway, she wasn’t sure of her age,
whether at the sowing season,
or when the neighbor gave birth
or when her brother got sick
a year more two less,
three years older,
four younger;
she wouldn’t grow. Orphan
since uncertain date,
orphan of father
as if you say owner less
as if you say a tenement,
a tenement house her body
usurped, usurped
the bedroom, the patio,
usurped the kitchen
where she crushed meat ground it,
made purée for the toothless.
Bestially mechanical
to have no more father, not to get older;mechanical the dirty parade
and the wounded smell
of that legion of grimaces,
mechanical the crack crack of teeth
in the looseness of lips.
It wasn’t necessary a father,
as weren’t necessary sheets
for the semen leftovers,
there, held from the front door;
because she was willing
and had no father. She,
insistent indulgence
in crushing.

She didn’t speak
for a few days,
nothing to voice;
petrified in her throat
a squeezed flow of ants,
an accumulation of ropes,
columns of fume
sticky with insects,
a packed heap of cloths
in her throat yard,
where she keeps
a numb rusty water,
in that bowl, there,
atrophy of heartbeat,
not in verse
her fear.

The rest was to conceal
what she’d no more be,
what she no more was,
the down she chokes with, tenuous
pubes of her language.In the pharynx gullet
a meticulous mark of grime, filth
under the sofas,
rubbish nobody wipes,
the language she conceals
to speak.

She is undressed;
tiny little feet,
pubes on the cheek.
As is right and proper, she allows,
she, the never daughter, obeys.
But, what do you have there,
which excuse in the shady hollow
if it’s they
who go to the sink,
who go and scrub
the greasy side,
lips make them sick,
oppression, saliva,
plenty of water
like waste gnawing,
that thing still alive inside you,
the repulsion
of your impetuous poor little beat.

The wrong thing with her was
she breathed through the wound,
that blind injured
dot of skin, the hairy
tow of her pelvis.
A whiff delves in the bends
and only the delay, the elusive
desertion of battles,
nothing else is felt.
The wrong thing with her was
that a crammed
thickness of thirst
touched her living part.And there, in the pettiness,
in the mere nothing of safeguarding,
it’s tense every moment
when she in vain shuts
the sore place.

At the beginning,
she stopped hearing the cricket’s sound;
she felt water
running through a maze,
a merciless bell on flakes on scabs,
a squash, something pierced
by the compression of air;
at the beginning,
it was a certain itch on the wound.
Then, like a deaf file
dull with lead, a file,
a granulated bar
born to erode,
became dumb as well.
When she closed her eyes
it was her who turned and vanished
swallowed by a whistle of hordes.
To prevent something from happening,
she repeated herself,
shouldn’t hear the blurry dialect,
the heroically ignorant language
they read in a low voice,
obscene monograms on the latrines.
As deaf as a post,
as a complete post
that fence she is held from, as deaf
as a post, she hears no more
the bang bang of shots;
since then,
only smell impregnates her,
latent soaking of fire
burning her.15-
She tried, for the last time,
to escape not.
If she escaped not
there’d be no need for witnesses,
neither accomplices, nor an usher;
no livid coloration of skin
would denounce the stroke.
Like a phantom
obedient in its perfection,
she hid behind white sheets,
smoky flow of the visible
like a joke of air,
which in sleepy entrances,
wears out.

Flesh store
and fingers sticky
with dry blood,
buzzing on guts,
and the exhausted lean semen
bumping and stinking.
Inside her pregnant viscera,
the private maternal inventory
of coldness.

Later and in her son
the fatal stab of platforms
repeated the unavoidable scene,
literal of legs caught
under the abundant iron of death.18-
Transparent nothing,
pale bright
bluish nothing.
splash of your blood,
and the usual story,
same eternal story
of the murderer’s crime
in the farce of your period,
that thing in your groins
shaming and staining him,
and then it dries,
it dries.

She doesn’t rest in peace.
They put chrysanthemums
in her dark chamber,
a key in the hidden place.
She neither sleeps nor rests,
never finishes dying.
It warps the skeleton
and mingles with dust.
At the edge of the hole they pray,
clean stones from the rubbish heap
and kill her again.
She doesn’t rest in peace
In the sons’ eyes
a tumulus of hatred burns,
not digging nonsense.
Even the nettle bleeds in the stove.
And it’s not a mistake,
she who lies there dead
is not yet dead.
Steady hands sprinkle the ashes
press the kneading, cut my bread.

It’s not a knife of cold sheet,
angled profile
to the thick handle;
promise of limit.
With no up to where
of the humid.
If it were a knife
it’d keep standing
on what resists.
If it were,
I would then clean it,
and putting it away, would not remember.
As knives remember not.
If it were,
every time my hands are
in the pocket,
I would feel it would say
“here it is, now yes, now you could not”
it would say no matter the time the place
“try now, now if you can”.
In plural, because it’s never tired
and smells nothing, sees nothing,
therefore it doesn’t care,
not knowing to distinguish.
As distinguishes not,
neither is suffocated nor dizzy.
It’s not,
since my hands are
in the pocket
and bleed not,
wounded to death,
As you don’t see me poured;
As I’m not.
It’s not a knife,
a guillotine,
an axe,
a sickle.
It’s not a dagger,
a lance.
Tanners would not recognize it,
nor grinders would.
They come twice a month, they say
“Ma’am, anything to sharp?”
And what could I say about this
which is not a penknife,
a dirk,
a sabre;
if it were
would do for food as well.
The baker knows, the butcher knows.
That is good to cure
knows well the doctor If it were a knife
today, right now,
if it were my hand what I forget,
if it were a mirror-like blade
I would see myself as through a crevice,
not worthy, not enough to,
not enough.
It’s not.
It’s what there’s not.
There’s not.
And not.
A weeping is not enough,
because it’s not a knife and never ends.

Translation: Macarena Cordiviola

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