Our showcase this week is a short story by Raquel Rivas Rojas, a writer who masterfully stretches the limits of language to catalogue what is left of life in the aftermath of an atrocity.
“Inventory for After the War” by Raquel Rivas Rojas
For Gina Saraceni
To fight against death in the open air, in the midst of the ruins of a war that has just ended or that continues somewhere else.
The noises of the far-off war that advances or that retreats.
The animals that surround us. Birds of prey, wild dogs, rats, winged insects. Caymans in the rivers. Venomous snakes under the stones and the sticks.
Rags. Old cloths are used on top of one another. The oldest cloths disintegrate and fall apart by themselves, into pieces. The loose strips are lifted at times in the breeze.
The smell of burning. Always and everything smells of burning. Until it rains. Then it smells of soaked ashes and running blood.
The earth roads. Dusty or muddy. Walking on them is always torture. They don’t seem to lead anywhere. And yet, sometimes, a ruin is crossed by on the way.
Bare feet. Nobody has shoes any more. There are some thick rags left that are tied with other rags. And then, always and without fail, bare feet.
The absence of desire beside the surprising and sudden shock of desire.
Hunger. Guts filled with air. The air that circulates round the empty guts producing an uprooted pain. A pain that starts in the gums and ends in the anus. A pain that is prolonged outside as you urinate three drops and expel droppings as hard as stone.