when his niece asks / tell me about Chía, the answer is always just: it’s a long story / but I think what you’re telling me, is that language is an inadequate grieving
uncle, today I spoke with your neurologist and I translated what he said for you
folded paper instructions with dosages
when he says that the medication will likely have no effect
translation is empathy, but I am uneasy about these choices
but this is a third death, after a war-torn childhood
why not war-shattered, mirror multiplied war-sunk to the bottom of an ocean war-broken and planted in the earth war-drenched in our red velvet-lined insides
a man with no childhood kills his memories and when his niece asks
but I think what you’re telling me, is that language is an inadequate grieving
here, you are using language against itself—choosing to kill it back, with a heavy tongue
but this is a third death, after immigration / to an implication nation
there is a system where the Ontario government pays directly for the taxi and neurologist
translation is empathy, but it is also complicity / uncle, can we refuse this ‘kindness’?
I read the wikipedia page for Las Violencias:
my name, an iterative process: gracias d-d-d-d-do-do-do-dor-dor-dori-dorit-dorita
45 years in Toronto and still no Inglish.
Editor’s note “Language is an inadequate grieving” and yet it's all we have. This is the paradox at the core of Dora Prieto’s “Pepe.” Grief is a problem for translation, Prieto implies, especially so when one straddles the threshold of multiple worlds and languages (when one inhabits the threshold rather than simply moving across it). We do not place an embargo on emotion, though. The acts of translating between Spanish and English, between the poetic and the domestic, between the past and the present—these are ways, however minor or fleeting, of making claim to the world. The speaker of Prieto’s poem carves open space for an ailing family member without “Inglish.” In so doing, he is afforded a lyric subjectivity. It is a gesture whose love is so enormous I feel changed having borne witness to it.
— Billy-Ray Belcourt, poetry editor
Dora Prieto is a Mexican-Canadian emerging writer and translator. Raised between rural Nova Scotia and Chiapas, Dora is at home in central Mexico and on the west coast. Her fiction and poetry have been published in Acentos Review, Room Magazine, and SOMOS Magazine among others. She currently lives, dances, and writes on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Sḵwxwú7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, also known as Vancouver. She is completing her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.
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