to Elina Chauvet

I know my turn will be soon. I’ll feel the blow as I walk carefree. The sweaty hand will cover my mouth, and I’ll vomit my scream into his palm. A bullet will carve a heart in my skull, or perhaps a metal blade will tattoo a necklace on my neck. Between his fingers, my blood will become a river as wide as the Río Bravo. Before they arrive, I tear out my pupils and guard them on the bottom of the sea. They’re comfortable there; the salt tastes like tears to them. I sharpen my nails and scratch my skin. I practice the only thing left for us: collecting evidence for the coroner. Before they find me I’m already a cadaver. I seal myself in a coffin and pretend to be dead. That way death is a game of hide-and-seek and not a witness to the terror.

I know my turn approaches, just like that of the women on the borders, in the wars, in the homes they groom and embellish before the punishment. This fate of bruises on the skin no longer surprises us. Only dusty shoes tossed on the road shall remain. Lonely shoes that dream of a fairy tale in which a prince finds his mistress in the arches of our dead feet.

Illustration: Somnath Bhatt.

Johanny Vázquez Paz

Johanny Vázquez Paz is the author of Sagrada familia (winner of the International Latino Book Award, 2015), Querido voyeur, and Streetwise Poems/Poemas callejeros. She won first prize in the poetry category at the Consenso Short Story and Poetry Contest of Northeastern Illinois University, and second prize in the short story category. She coedited the anthology Between the Heart and the Land/Entre el corazón y la tierra: Latina Poets in the Midwest and her work has been included in the anthologies City of the Big Shoulders, Ejército de rosas, En la 18 a la 1, and The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century, among others. She currently teaches at Harold Washington College in Chicago, Illinois. I Offer My Heart as a Target/Ofrezco mi corazón como una diana is her latest collection of poetry.

Lawrence Schimel

Lawrence Schimel is a full-time author, writing in both Spanish and English, who has published over one hundred books in a wide range of genres, including fiction, poetry, graphic novels & children’s literature. He is also a prolific literary translator. Recent translations include the novels The Wild Book by Juan Villoro (Restless Books) and La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono (Feminist Press in the US/Modjaji Books in South Africa); the graphic novel of Jesús Carrasco's Out in the Open (SelfMadeHero); and poetry collections Destruction of the Lover by Luis Panini (Pleaides Press), Bomarzo by Elsa Cross (Shearsman Books), Impure Acts by Ángelo Néstore (Indolent Books) and I Offer My Heart as a Target by Johanny Vázquez Paz (Akashic). He lives in Madrid, Spain.