Cristina Rivera Garza



There was something human in all that.


Someone walked or dragged along the undergrowth and stopped, every now and then, to take a breath.


With time, it would be clear that the person who walked or dragged along was a man.


It is at all possible that the first image was a birds dream.


The undergrowth is a terrified accumulation of carnivorous plants and thorns and violent sky-blue humidity, and foliage.


Painters recommend the use of cadmium and natural sienna to get the most intense greens, and certain combinations of cobalt with very dark cadmium, burnt sienna or warm orange to get alternative shades of green.


Waking up is like looking at a clearing through the undergrowth where a woman lies with her eyes closed.


In the poem Sleeping Beauty, José Carlos Becerra writes: “And we laughed a little bit awkwardly, a bit ashamed at our own creation, like the children we had killed, those two through which we went through to get to this beautiful and hesitant gaze of today.


At the center of everything lies, naturally, murder.


Death is never a vacillation.


I looked at for the first time the paintings of the series Briar Rose, by Edward Burne-Jones, at a small museum on a Caribbean island. It was a very sunny day.


How many dreams are there in a one-hundred-year-long dream?


Children, this is clear to all, are often murdered by adults.


“Together the two of us, about to seize mystery, about to be invaded by nakedness and all its extensions, about to see how the princess who had been sleeping for centuries opened her eyes, about to witness how the young traveler found the door of the enchanted castle, about to see the possibility of the existence of such a castle, about to give life to the spell, and in such a way about to conjure it, about to touch the cape, the sword and the mere possibility of a royal lineage, about to only, about to something.”


And when you look back and see their destroyed, surgically dismembered bodies, do you feel something?


The hand of a child, trembling.


Duchamps green camera is still a mystery to me.


Waking up is one of the most difficult moments of the day.


Guilt is, at times, an emotion.


In order to get a very shiny green, painters recommend the use of viridian.


Large-format paintings make us believe for a moment that we can jump into them without any difficulty.


In the Briar Wood, right in front of the five sleeping soldiers, I thought: “In my will burns a dark bird, words have suddenly acquired the weight of unknown facts, they now have the greenish air of the statues.


Briar Rose is a version of Sleeping Beauty, originally written by the Grimm brothers.


There is always something morbid in dreaming.


Does the child know that he is about to faint under the sharp edge of a furious sword?


I do not know what the girl knows.


It is an exaggeration to describe a front yard as an “undergrowth.”


But, I insist, when you look back and you are able to see their faces, still burning, and their thin bodies spread with geometric rigor on the green, humid ground, do you feel something?


When pronouncing the words “undergrowth” and “spell, the speaker may have the impression he is talking about the same thing.


Feeling is a very large green.


In the Garden Court, right in front of the six sleeping women, heads on bent arms, all of them languid on wooden tables, peaceful, I thought: “Perhaps we will never know if we were palpated by the kind of life we never managed to know.


Few things are more terrible than being witnesses of the death of children.


Palpating. Appalling. Palatal. Pupil.


And inside the Council Chamber, right there, in front of the king of bent shoulders, walking through thorns and still fabrics, I said: “I do not know who we are anymore either, José Carlos.


The only thing even more terrible than being witnesses of the death of children is walking very slowly through their light bones.


Very often looking at the sky is useless.


It is at all possible that the image of a man and a woman walking very slowly through light bones is also the hallucination of a bird.


Do you feel something?


And when dreaming arrives, right before closing ones own eyes but after the will disappears.


There is a line right here.


Often, there is, in dreams that last one hundred years, something human and something malignant, something like that green with much cobalt, something like that red, thick and broken.



Translated by the author



Cristina Rivera Garza is the author of novels and essays. Her most recent works are Taiga Syndrome, a novel; and Newton's Disc: Ten Essays on Color, a collection of poetry. She is a Professor of Creative Writing at UCSD-MFA.

This poem originally appears in Spanish in El disco de Newton: Diez ensayos sobre el color [Newton's Disc: Ten Essays on Color] (México: Bonobos, 2011).