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La Flor/The Flower

Daniela Tarazona Velutini


Published:
Illustration by Geoffrey Hamerlinck

Hablo de mí conmigo sólo por saber si es verdad que estoy debajo de la hierba.

-Alejandra Pizarnik, Extracción de la piedra de la locura.

Desde que llegamos, Lobo llora. Hace dos días que vino a buscarme.

Yo creo en mis poderes, pero no en los médicos. Yo creo en mis libros, como el que tengo sobre la cabeza. El peso del libro me recuerda mi condición de aprendiz. No hay nada, más allá de lo escrito en las páginas de mis libros, que pueda considerar verdadero.

Ismael, el cura, me trajo para que fuera testigo de la cirugía. —Le sacarán una piedra de la cabeza a Lobo —dijo Ismael, con los ojos húmedos de alegría o deseo.

Recordé la mañana de abril en la que sentí un intenso dolor en el vientre, fui hacia el aguamanil y vomité una piedra. Le conté a Ismael que la piedra de la cabeza de Lobo me hacía pensar en la piedra que yo me comí aquella primavera. Me hacen falta algunos minerales y, además, no he otorgado placeres a mi carne. En esos días, estuve perdida dentro de mi propia casa; salí al jardín para buscar una piedra algo rosada y comérmela, traté de deshacerla, de masticarla pero la piedra apenas soltó algo de arena y diminutos fragmentos, entonces, la tragué.

En la aldea conocemos a Lobo desde siempre. Es él quien ha tocado los cristales de las ventanas de cada casa con los nudillos rotos. Pide comida, pide niños para comer. Cuando se le entrega un plato de guisado, Lobo grita y abre mucho los ojos: —¡Un niño cocido! —dice.

Los vecinos cuentan que el padre de Lobo, cuando padeció demasiada hambre, le cortó un trozo de carne de la pierna a su hijo, lo cocinó y se lo comió, por eso Lobo ha sido siempre un hombre robado. Su padre le quitó un pedazo del cuerpo. Lobo estuvo arrastrando la pierna hasta que, de manera insólita, el hueco dejado por la atrocidad cicatrizó.

Ismael ha traído vino, la sangre de Cristo, para empinar el cántaro sobre los labios de Lobo, pretende engañar sus sentidos con el alcohol. Sabemos que nada conseguirá. Lobo es fuerte pero sufrirá cuando el médico le abra el cráneo. Estoy aquí para verlo, sólo eso, pues no puedo ayudar a consumar un acto que considero inútil.

Las manos del médico no tiemblan.

Atrás de nosotros, se alza la torre de la iglesia principal de nuestra aldea. Pasa una paloma blanca que se suspende justo encima de nuestras cabezas. Ismael la mira y sonríe como un poseído con pocas luces.

Hemos caminado bajo un sol severo para llegar a esta llanura. El médico le quita las sandalias a Lobo y las coloca bajo su silla. Dos hombres bajos pero fuertes han traído hasta aquí, sobre las espaldas, la mesa en la que estoy recargada y la silla de Lobo.

Ismael hace sus labores religiosas con acierto. Extiende la mano de cuando en cuando hacia Lobo, luego abre las palmas hacia el cielo para recibir fuerza, como si la luz del sol fuera la propia mirada de Cristo. Yo sé que el médico le dará parte de su pago a Ismael, porque el médico quiere que Ismael hable de él en las misas por venir.

Empiezo a aburrirme. El calor es demasiado. Lobo le habla al médico: —Saca por fin de mí la piedra que me ha heredado mi padre. Sus palabras me recuerdan a los actores que llegan cada tanto a la aldea para hacer dramas ridículos sobre la vida de los hombres desgraciados.

Ismael comienza a rezar en latín. El médico, que ha traído desde que salimos de la aldea el pesado embudo sobre la cabeza, procede y empuña la cuchilla sobre la frente de Lobo.

Hay un terreno recién arado y de tierra húmeda. Justo al centro, un ave desciende para hundir su pico en la tierra y extraer una semilla que apenas ha germinado.

Alejandra me da un beso.

Hay un metal que se deforma por el calor. Las esquirlas del metal han sido clavadas en tu pecho, Alejandra, y entre cada uno de
tus dedos.

Alejandra dejó en mi lengua un pedazo de metal afilado, un cuchillo minúsculo que escupiré.

Ismael y el médico se dan la mano. Por eso el espíritu de Cristo, que es el de la ciencia, se cuela por la parte más delgada del embudo hasta envolver la cabeza del médico que no nos habla, que no nos mira, que ni siquiera observó a Ismael cuando le dio la mano.

Los pensamientos del médico están detenidos. Entiéndase: el médico no piensa en nada porque el espíritu sabio de Cristo le ha tapado los oídos, le ha restado el olfato y sólo ha dejado en su lengua el gusto de la carne cocida. De súbito, el médico entiende que el padre de Lobo degustó la carne cocida, la de su hijo. —Todo lo que estoy contando lo imagino gracias a la lejanía de los confines de mi mente, alimentada por la sabiduría escrita en los libros, como éste que sostengo con la cabeza—. El médico está moviendo la lengua dentro de la boca, mientras empuña con una mano grácil la cuchilla en la piel de Lobo.

Ismael exhala, impresionado por la cirugía, el médico suma la mano izquierda a la operación y aprieta la cabeza de Lobo como si quisiera exprimirle el contenido.

La piedra, Alejandra.

He disfrutado los últimos momentos. Lobo repite: —Soy inocente, soy necio, soy inocente, soy necio. El médico aprieta de nueva cuenta la piel y entonces la vemos, en un instante. Lo suponía porque así me lo decían los libros: aquello no era una piedra, era una flor, Alejandra.

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I talk to myself about myself only to find out whether it’s true that I am under the grass.

-Alejandra Pizarnik, Cutting the Stone
Lobo has been crying ever since we arrived. It’s been two days since he came to look for me.

I believe in my powers but not in doctors. I believe in my books, like the one on my head. The book’s weight reminds me of my state of apprenticeship. Nothing, beyond what is written in the pages of my books, can be considered true.

Ismael, the priest, brought me to be a witness to the surgery. “They’re going to remove a stone from Lobo’s head,” Ismael said, his eyes wet with joy or desire.

I remembered the April morning when I felt an intense pain in my belly; I went to the washbasin and vomited a stone. I told Ismael that the stone in Lobo’s head made me think of the stone I ate that spring. I needed some minerals, and, besides, I had not granted pleasures to my flesh. At the time, I was lost inside my own house; I went out to the garden to look for a pinkish stone to eat. I tried to dissolve it, to chew it, but the stone only let out some sand and tiny fragments, so I swallowed it.

In the village, we’ve known Lobo forever. He’s the one who knocks on the windowpanes of every house with his broken knuckles. He asks for food, he asks for children to eat. When you hand him a plate of stew, Lobo screams and opens his eyes wide. “A boiled child!” he says.

The neighbors say that Lobo’s father, when he suffered from too much hunger, cut a piece of flesh off his son’s leg, cooked it, and ate it; that’s why Lobo has always been a stolen man. His father took a piece of his body. Lobo dragged the leg around until, in an unusual way, the hollow left by the atrocity scarred.

Ismael has brought wine, the blood of Christ, and props the jug over Lobo’s lips; he tries to deceive his senses with the alcohol. We know it won’t do anything. Lobo is strong, but he’ll suffer when the doctor opens his skull. I’m here to see it, only that, since I cannot help consummate an act that I consider useless.

The doctor’s hands do not shake.

Behind us, the tower rises from the main church in our village. A white dove hovers just above our heads. Ismael looks at it and smiles like someone who isn’t very bright.

We have walked beneath a harsh sun to reach this plain. The doctor takes Lobo’s sandals off and places them under his chair. Two short but strong men have carried the table I lean on and Lobo’s chair on their backs.

Ismael does his religious tasks correctly. He extends his hand toward Lobo from time to time; then he opens his palms toward the sky to receive strength, as if the sunlight were the very gaze of Christ. I know the doctor will give Ismael part of his payment, since the doctor wants Ismael to mention him in future masses.

I begin to grow bored. The heat is too much. Lobo speaks to the doctor: “Would you finally remove the stone my father left me.” His words remind me of the actors that come every so often to the village to stage ridiculous dramas about the lives of unfortunate men.

Ismael begins to pray in Latin. The doctor, who has carried the heavy funnel on his head since we left the village, proceeds and clutches the knife over Lobo’s forehead.

There is an unplowed plot of land with wet earth. In the center, a bird descends to bury its beak in the earth and extract a seed that has just germinated. Alejandra gives me a kiss.

There is a metal that deforms in the heat. The metal splinters have been nailed in your breast, Alejandra, and in each one of your fingers.

Alejandra left a piece of sharp metal on my tongue, a miniscule knife that I will spit out.

Ismael and the doctor shake hands. That is why the spirit of Christ, which is the spirit of science, seeps through the narrowest part of the funnel until it shrouds the head of the doctor who does not speak to us, who does not look at us, who did not even notice Ismael when he shook his hand.

The doctor’s thoughts have stopped: understand: the doctor does not think about anything because the wise spirit of Christ has covered his ears, has taken away his sense of smell, and has left only the taste for boiled meat on his tongue. Suddenly, the doctor understands that Lobo’s father tasted boiled meat, his son’s. “Everything I say, I imagine thanks to the limits of the distance of my mind, fed by the wisdom written in books, like the one I carry on my head.” The doctor is moving his tongue inside his mouth, while his slender hand clutches the knife in Lobo’s skin.

Ismael exhales, impressed by the surgery; the doctor adds his left hand to the operation and squeezes Lobo’s head as if he wanted to press out its contents.

The stone, Alejandra.

I’ve enjoyed the last moments. Lobo repeats: “I’m innocent, I’m foolish, I’m innocent, I’m foolish.” The doctor squeezes the skin again and then we see it, in an instant. I imagined it because the books said it would be so: that was not a stone; it was a flower, Alejandra.

 

Translated from the Spanish by Janet Hendrickson


Daniela Tarazona Velutini was born in Mexico City in 1975. She is the author of El animal sobre la piedra (Mexico: Almadiìa, 2008 and Argentina: Entropiìa, 2011) and El beso de la liebre (Alfaguara, 2012). In her work as an essayist, she writes about the work of Clarice Lispector (Nostra Ediciones, 2009). In 2011, she was recognized by the Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara as one of the 25 best-kept literary secrets of Latin America.

Janet Hendrickson is a writer and translator. Her translation of The Future Is Not Ours, an anthology of Latin American fiction, was published by Open Letter Books. Publications featuring her work include Granta, Zoetrope: All-Story, and Traviesa. She holds an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Iowa and is a PhD student in Spanish at Cornell University.

Geoffrey Hamerlinck occasionally edits the obscuro comix newsletter, The White Buffalo Gazette. He occasionally teaches drawing and printmaking at St. Cloud State University, and Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists’ Residency. Occasionally he works at a grocery store and occasionally flips out at customers. Occasionally he draws, paints, prints, makes comics, animates, even makes clay sculptures. Most of the time he is not doing any of these things.

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