Did we lose you in a game of dice?
Did you escape from us in one snort?
In which junkie’s syringe did you become trapped, my Homeland?
           Maybe some Nordic addict’s?
When did they brand you with the mark of the pill that gives short-lived pleasure?
I’m addicted to you, stamped with your indelible mark.
 
 
My Homeland,
once eloquent, now you stutter,
stutter daily,
ever more alive,
voracious, arrogant
like the mouth of an open wound!
 
In the shadows you behave like a trollop,
you sell each part of yourself for the pleasure of others,
wearing dark glasses,
you sing along to the accordion and tamborines,
until you’re hoarse.
In bed you feign pleasure but feel pain.
 
 
(And sometimes you make music without poisoning others with your own flesh.)
(And sometimes, my Homeland, you laugh without making yourself hoarse.)
 
¿Quo vadis?
 
Where did you fall, sleepless homeland,
like the star in the story,
like the drunk woman who crashed into a lamppost?
 
Your flesh is denser,
more austere,
more solid,
more real,
can be compressed into a thimble,
or the embroidery on that blouse.
 
No doubt you exist, no question.
But where are you?
Through the smoke of a war that sullies us all,
              in which no one 
              but mercenaries
              participate
—the bullets that fly have no conviction,
they’re on the payroll of the fed, the state, some drug lord . . .
rounds of bullets for hire.
 
You’re slipping away from us, Homeland in flight.
(Your honeyed
breath
of rounds of bullets for hire.)
 
(Your breath of garlic and chocolate and chiles.)
 
(Your pestle-and-mortar breath
of garlic and honey and chiles and pepper and cinnamon.)
(Your breath of sacrificial stone,
of blood,of a heart still beating.)
 
I love her anyway
 
My land, my water, my roots, my tree trunks and flowers,
stony, feminine islet,
mine, mine, as only you can be,
quintessential Mother,
I call to you from another island without stones,
or serpents, 
where the eagle and the hedgehog work together,
planning to devour you.
 
. . . 
 
(Cactus!
We have made cactus
stew of my Homeland!
A delicious soup of pleasures
for foreigners.
Cactus: ecstasy, meth, and everything else.)
 
From Sleepless Homeland (Madrid: Hiperion, 2011). © 2011 by Carmen Boullosa. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2012 by Samantha Schnee. All rights reserved.

¿Te perdemos en un juego de dados?
¿En una esnifada te nos escapas?
¿En qué jeringa de que yonki te has quedado atrapada, Patria mía?,

¿tal vez atada a un adicto nórdico?
¿Cuándo te pusieron encima el sello de la píldora que da un placer efímero? De ti yo soy adicta, sin tus suertes.

¡Patria mía,
algún día diamantina, tartamudeas! ¡Tartamuda cada día,
más viva a la manera de la llaga, altiva y voraz!

En tus rincones te comportas como una suripanta, vendes cada porción de ti para el gusto de otros, usas lentes oscuros,
cantas con acordeón y tambores,

te desgañitas,
en tu lecho finges placer y sientes dolor.

(Y a veces tus cuerdas suenan sin estar envenenando a costa propia). (Y a veces, Patria mía, te ríes sin desgañites.)

¿Quo vadis?

¿Dónde caíste, Patria insomne,
como el astro del cuento,
como la ebria que se estrella contra un poste de luz?

Tu masa más densa, más austera,
más sólida,
más real,

puede comprimirse y caber en un dedal,

...

o en el bordado de aquella blusa.

De que estés, no hay duda.
¿Pero a dónde vas?
Entre lo humos de una guerra entre todos,

en la que nadie sino mercenarios participa

-las balas que vuelan no tienen convicciones,
son de paga federal, estatal, o de este capo o el otro etcétera... Ráfagas a sueldo-,
te nos escapas, Patria en fuga.

(Tu aliento
de miel
de ráfagas a sueldo.)

(Tu aliento de ajo y chocolate y chiles diversos.)

(Tu aliento a piedra de moler,
molcajete y ajo y miel y chiles y pimienta y canela.

(Tu aliento a piedra del sacrificio, a sangre,
al corazón que aún palpita.)

La quiero igual

Tierra mía, agua mía, raíz mía, arboladura y flor, islote pedregoso en femenino,
mía, mía, como sólo tú puedes serlo,
Madre mayor,

a ti te llamo desde otra isla sin piedras,
ni serpientes,
donde el águila y el erizo andan en lo mismo, piensan cómo devorarte.

̈ ̈

(¡Nopalitos!
¡Sopa de nopalitos
hemos guisado con mi Patria!
Deliciosa sopa de placeres
para los extranjeros.
Nopalitos: éxtasis, alfametilfentanilo, y demás.) !




Carmen BoullosaCarmen Boullosa

Carmen Boullosa (born in Mexico City in 1954) is one of Mexico's leading novelists, poets, and playwrights. She has published fifteen novels, the most recent of which are El complot de los románticos, Las paredes hablan, and La virgen y el violin, all with Editorial Siruela in Madrid. Her works in English translation include They´re Cows, We're Pigs; Leaving Tabasco; and Cleopatra Dismounts, all published by Grove Press, and Jump of the Manta Ray, with illustrations by Philip Hughes, published by The Old Press. Her novels have also been translated into Italian, Dutch, German, French, Portuguese, Chinese, and Russian.

She received the Xavier Villaurrutia Prize in Mexico, in Germany the Anna Seghers and the Liberaturpreis, and from Spain the Café Gijón Prize. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Cullman Center Fellow, and has held the Chair Andrés Bello at NYU and the Alfonso Reyes Chair at La Sorbonne. A Distinguished Lecturer at City College of New York, she is a member of the Sistema Nacional de Creadores, in Mexico. She hosts the CUNY-T.V. show Nueva York, for which she´s been awarded four New York Emmys.

Translated from SpanishSpanish by Samantha SchneeSamantha Schnee

Samantha Schnee is a founding editor of Words without Borders. She is the former senior editor of Zoetrope: All-Story, a literary journal founded by Francis Ford Coppola that won the 2001 National Magazine Award for fiction. She translates from the Spanish.