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Antonio Cisneros

Many Writers Have to Take Up Teaching

Translated by Michael L. Smith

Years now since I've been in this craft: take the whole cow
(or its evidence/representation),
show it, point out its twenty parts, name as on a map what
will have to fall under the knife,
make it repeat, repeat, explain that those aren't the parts of
cow under consideration, that it's not a question
of a problem of flesh or skin but of anatomy. A problem of
flesh and not love has me with the chalk/
the knife/the cow/the blackboard, "That's how I take
home the bread" -- my excuses are as mild as a glass of
milk, as tame as a pair of fried eggs.

So I don't belong to the union nor do I frequent the butchers'
hotel after the workday.
But that doesn't save me, years now since I've been in
this craft; they repeat and I repeat, they repeat
-- and I repeat
my first name, my last name, let's see if I answer myself
from the bottom of a seat, but there's no cricket
or ant creaking,
they've gone forever with the names of the other generations:
plumbers now, architects, now dead, merchants,
now career people.
Oh, excuses more homely than a father, more than a child,
a foreign language between the two
(without method or text). Two rooms with a single door, sealed,
riveted. Until the water and the earth are fused as they
say it once way.