Juana M. Ramos —El Salvador / USA—

Juana M. Ramos was born in Santa Ana, El Salvador, and currently lives in New York City where she is a professor of Spanish and literature at York College, CUNY. She has participated in international poetry festivals and recitals in Mexico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Cuba, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Argentina, Guatemala, and Spain. She has published several books of poetry: Multiplicada en mí, Palabras al borde de mis labios, En la batalla, Ruta 51C, Sobre luciérnagas and Sin ambages/To the Point. She is coauthor of Tomamos la palabra: mujeres en la guerra civil de El Salvador (1980-1992), a collection of testimonies of women who fought in El Salvador’s civil war. Her poems and narratives have been published in several anthologies and literary magazines, both in print and digital format, throughout Latin America, the United States, and Spain.

Una se cansa

Una se cansa del gesto agrio, de hacer línea para todo, del quejido compulsivo y del alquiler, de buscar semanalmente los encargos, del amargo rictus en el rostro del carnicero al momento de estrellar su filo contra la carne muerta. Una se cansa de la muchedumbre que ocupa los asientos, del nerviosismo de piernas cuando el tren se atasca entre estaciones, del “We apologize for the inconvenience” y del “We thank you for your patience”, ¡paciencia que no hay otra! No hay manera de salir huyendo, no hay cómo hacerse de aquel “cuchillo verde”. Una se cansa de insistir en la inicial de su segundo nombre, de insistir en que una es más que un nombre, de explicar cada semestre por qué “abolir” es un verbo defectivo, del rechinar de dientes que provocan tres infinitivos en hilera, de la epopeya del ego en las redes sociales, de las grandes corporaciones y los desastres ecológicos, de los ripios y los lugares tan comunes, de la decimonónica manera de decir, de las miradas, ni buenas ni malas, simplemente miradas, de pisarle los talones al salario, del sindicato y las cartas al gobernador para mendigar algo que por derecho corresponde, de esperar ansiosamente el retroactivo, del café mediano con leche de almendra y miel, de la misa dominical, de darle la paz al prójimo, del “cuántos capítulos te faltan”, de los lujosos condominios a la orilla del East River (por mencionar un ejemplo más o menos asequible) en los que nunca viviremos, de la avenida Bedford con sus bares y cafés, de los bares y cafés que comienzan a inundar como sarpullido el Este de Williamsburg y su Broadway. Una se cansa de buscar un lugarcito en la redondez de los días, de la máscara sobre la máscara sobre la máscara. Una se cansa, se marchita, muere.


One Gets Tired

One gets tired of the sour gesture, of getting in line for everything, of the compulsive groan and of the rent, of looking for the orders weekly, of the bitter rictus on the butcher’s face at the moment of striking his edge against the dead flesh. One gets tired of the crowd that crowds the seats, of the nervousness of legs when the train gets stuck between stations, of the “we apologize for the inconvenience” and the “we thank you for your patience”, patience because there is no choice! There is no way to get out and flee, there is no way to get that “green knife.” One gets tired of insisting on the first initial of one’s middle name, of insisting about one being more than a name, of explaining each semester why “to abolish” is a defective verb, of the grinding of teeth caused by three infinitives in a row, of the ego’s epic journey through social media, of big corporations and ecological disasters, of the rubble and the too-common places, of the looks, neither good nor bad, merely looks, of running out of salary, of the union and of the letters to the governor, to beg for something that is ours by right, of waiting anxiously for the retroactive pay, of the medium coffee with almond milk and honey, of Sunday Mass, of saying “peace be with you” to your neighbor, of “how many chapters do you have to write,” of the luxurious condominiums on the shore of the East River (to mention a more or less affordable example) in which we will never live, of Bedford Avenue with its cafes and bars, of the bars and cafes that start to inundate East Williamsburg and its Broadway like a rash. One gets tired of searching for a little place in the openness of days, of the mask over the mask over the mask. One gets tired, one withers, one dies.

Translated by Iara Cardo

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