from The Country of Ice
There will be nothing. Images of exhausted faces
revealed through the transparency of the frozen
cliffs of the sea's narrow passage, as if they had
been captured seconds after a bout of crying or a
state of sudden languor. You see them appear like
this, side by side, immense, as if in a dream, while
you move through the crowd, through an endless,
frigid humanity. And you imagine a photo
installation in an art gallery and the reddened rims
of her eyes appear before you behind the ice blocks
and behind them the frosted sheets, the room in
the nursing home, the iceberg of your
And perhaps that was love. Your mother with a
stale bouquet of flowers at the door of the Home
of the Holy Cross or a minor detail: a wooden
bench with her sitting stiffly at your side as if she
were asking you why did you come to dump me here.
There will be nothing. The gigantic frozen faces
of the mountain flank the frigid march and you
see then the portraits of some boys emerging
from behind the ice. The first face surprises you,
his eyes look up and his lips seem to smile. A
shadow holds him by the hand. You remember
then an interprovincial bus and a seat next to the
window. His little face looks up at you and you
in turn look at him as you press against the glass.
You speak to him knowing that he will only see
the movement of your mouth and your hands
waving goodbye. Now you see him there once
more, through the glaciers, and you want to tell
him something, to leave the bus once and for all,
to take him in your arms.
The cold immobilizes you. You then see the crowd,
the naked, frozen humanity advancing through
the frost and it's something infinitely remote,
glacial, his face abandoned already in the ice.
There will be nothing. You see then his eyes
wide open and soon the tufts of red hair that
stick to his face wet from sweat and saliva.
That's how he appears to you through the ice.
You know he's been crying and you notice
now the pull of his lips contracting as if he
still wants to say something. You also want
to say something. You remember the battered
table, the hole in the wall joint in the outskirts,
his screams on the telephone almost at dawn,
the taxi searching for the address a girl gave you
before he hung up. But since you didn't talk before,
you can't talk now. Or, at least, explain to him
that it doesn't matter and the trips to the
psychiatrist and your nightmarish fear of
addiction. You love him to death. You see him
through the glaciers.
You then look at the giant wall of ice and you
feel you were once there, perhaps hundreds,
thousands of years ago, and you curl up in a ball
as if wanting to save yourself from that memory.
There will be nothing. You look at the enormous
portraits and you see her face under the
transparency of the frozen walls. You return, then,
to a foreign city, Boston. You return to that great
love and you feel the pressing of some hands that
take you from behind and cover your eyes. You
have waited hours for her and you don't think she
will arrive, but now you feel her palms blinding
you and then her arms not yet wilted from
osteoporosis. You turn around. You look at her.
You know she's the same, you know this is how
she would look now; her face with the translucent
skin of someone for whom all that remains is an
end. Through the ice her enormous reddened eyes
stare at a distant point. You suddenly remember
that you've never seen her cry.
You collapse. You see yourself fall amid the
crowd and you feel the final punch of cold,
of the terrorized, sobbing humanity that
screams, disappearing between the icebergs.
There will be nothing. The faces appear one
after another, enormous and flat, visible through
the thick walls of ice. You then see your sister,
30-some-years old, her eyes still teary, bringing
an arm to her mouth and a bit behind the face
of your grandmother captured at the moment
she tries to lift her head to look at you for the
last time. You focus, then, on the thread of her
neck which looks as if it will slip off from the
effort it takes to move. You feel the tears that
immediately freeze, cutting the rim of your
eyelids and then the blood which also freezes
while you are becoming lost in the frosted
humanity, frozen stiff amid the blizzard and the
snow. You can't cry.
You can still crack open your eyes and see your
own face looking at you from the icebergs and
it's an image from thousands and millions of
years ago. A frozen face. A pain. Nothing.
translated from the Spanish by Daniel Borzutzky