Not Terrorized No, by Cristina Rivera GarzaTranslated by Ilana LunaCheyla Samuelson

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In memory of Marisela Escobedo, a Mexican activist who was assassinated in 2010 while protesting the acquittal of Sergio Rafael Barraza Bocanegra, who had confessed to murdering Escobedo’s teenage daughter. The poem was published in Issue 14 of Lana Turner. Translated from the Spanish.

a. You would need to understand something. To look at the sky, for example. To look at the palms of your hands and blindly feel your way forward. Sometimes it’s necessary to touch a wall and sometimes it’s necessary to claw at a wall. The pain at the tips of your fingers. Underneath your nails. The dead bolt of your fingers. The wall exists because of the echo that feels it out. The wall is your against which. The end of their line isn’t that right? What you really do is fall, and then, if possible, fall again. Reading is just one way of dropping to your knees.

b. Speaking and crawling are often one and the same. Which means touching the ground with your hands. Which is not, like walking, a movement sane and articulated and vertical. Which is to regress in time, to invade childhood or injustice. Babbling. Stumbling. Which is to be broken, you must understand. Say: Here. Say: It hurts. Repeatedly. Which means I won’t get up. Which is to beg for them to be returned alive, to crawl. You win. Understand. Falling to your knees is the main event.

c. When praying, one kneels. One pleads. One begs: let them return alive. One murmurs: let them find their way home, let them hear me, not terrorized, no. One moves their lips so softly so sweetly so silently. The opposite of confession is the offering. The inverse of a fingernail.

d. One who keeps praying in their body, beneath the vaulted dome, deep in the fog. See also: genuflection, adoration, reverence. See also: fear. Feel also: the terror. You must understand something. Looking at your empty hands, for example. Feeling the weight of the body that isn’t there. Clawing which is growling with your fingers. Trembling. Mortifying. A wall is also a thing made of mist.

e. The one who asks for or the many who ask for. The many who come together to join hands and pray. Supplication is an infinite action. The mother who sees through her daughter’s shroud. The sister who waits. An uncle or cousin who breaks down. A spectral circle. We must unearth a door in the center of the wall. A doorknob at the edge of a rectangle. A tiny key. A drain. The hand, that trusts. The step, that is taken.

f. Falling, which is to always fall again. Repetition like the echo or the shadow of the echo or the stain of the shadow of the echo. Yesterday I lit four hundred twenty-five candles. Consuming is a way of producing time. This is the wax with which I remake your neck, your mouth, your hair.

g. We must understand something or see something or definitively fall facedown onto something. Faith is a matter for walls or for the blind. We who whisper: let our women return alive. Let them come back. We who turn the key. We who ask: Who’s there?


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