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Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Roberto Bolaño: The Redhead


American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), National Zoo, Washington, D.C.: photo by Stevehdc, 2007

She was eighteen and she was mixed up in the drug trade. Back then I saw her all the time but if I had to make a police sketch of her now, I don't think I could. I know she had an aquiline nose, and for a few months she was a redhead; I know I heard her laugh once or twice from the window of a restaurant as I was waiting for a taxi or just walking past in the rain. She was eighteen and every two weeks she went to bed with a cop from the Narcotics Squad.


Lesser flamingos (Phenicopterus minor), Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania: photo by Charles J. Sharp, 2004

She watched him from the bed ... She smoked Camel Lights and maybe at some point she imagined that the furniture in the room and even her lover were empty things that she had to invest with meaning ... Purple-tinted scene: before she pulls down her tights, she tells him about her day ... "Everywhere is disgustingly still, frozen somewhere in the air." Hotel room lamp. A stenciled pattern, dark green. Frayed rug. Girl on all fours who moans as the vibrator enters her cunt. She had long legs and she was eighteen, in those days she was in the drug trade and she was doing all right, she even opened a checking account and bought a motorcycle.


Lesser flamingos (Phenicopterus minor), Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania: photo by Charles J. Sharp, 2004

Roberto Bolaño: The Redhead (excerpts), from Antwerp, 1980, translated by Natasha Wimmer, New Directions 2010


Hazen said...

Antwerp reminds me of those Japanese compressed paper pellets that you’d drop into a bowl of water and watch them blossom and grow into multi-hued flowers. Bolaño composes, condenses, compresses and then drops Antwerp into the imagination of the reader. The story that flowers in the reader’s mind might or might not resemble the one running in Bolaño’s head as he boiled in all down, but I like to think he accepted that risk. Or even desired it. When I read Antwerp, the mind quite often added its own extensions and over-lays to his descriptions.

Anonymous said...

confieso que no he leído este autor...gracias por traerlo!

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Cream of Tartar

If I had a dog I would call it home
to my house if I had a house.
If I had a job
and a man who loved me
I’d have a house and some kids.
And the dog’s name would be Cream of Tartar.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Mark Klett’s West

We passed Shiprock going fast. The light, perfect.
Later, it was what I studied, wrote about
because that is what had happened the whole time.
Out there, the view. Bird’s eye.

How dusty and hot it was. Loneliness a huge friend.
The Flatirons, later. Their dull mirrors holding the sky.
I learned that this was food, better even, in the west.
Maybe our paths will cross again, he said. That was cryptic
like the West. His body on the bed. Holding a gun?
Just the shadow. Not like that. But, the west.
How would it ever happen again? A story like that?

It took me three days to stop thinking.
Go figure.
Go figure out the west. Go for a jog, take a shower.
Appreciate the water. That rebus of desire.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

The Telephone

Sometimes she calls us
when she’s drunk. Her voice
is golden syrup music. It never stumbles.
She doesn’t ask a lot of questions, then.
She has all the answers to our letters.
They unwind from her mouth like flowers
unfolding in special time-lapse Nature Shows.
Speeded up. Small monsters going to overtake
the earth. The title of one particular show
could be called “How Flowers Bloom.” In it,
she brushes her hair and the longer
she brushes it the curlier it ravels
and the closer it becomes to the time to hang up.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

O.K., Who Gets To Be Jim Morrison?

Could it be me with my white sunglasses I take off
in my car near Yermo? In the desert I learned how to drink
and the drink was taken in small increments
and then larger here in the desert. That’s all I can say
for now. It seems like such a waste. Which it is. A fragile
busy waste. I’m in Yermo and there’s nowhere I can’t see.
I hate what I’m doing here.

Or could it be him with his t-shirt and golfing visor
neutralizing his body. He’s sick of the relationship
and all I can do is listen to the crawl that is steady.
It avoids the corners of his mouth.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

The 80s Denise & The 90s Denise

Wherever we went in Eugene
we walked. She was my friend.
We were creep magnets
it was decided. When the bear
showed up on the Rogue,
it was not a bear, but the man she would marry,
with his head in his paws, gazing at us
from across Bunker Creek. He was in Snakepit,
went to Bolivia, threw a mean softball. Corine
hated him. I took up the slack.

We stayed through Reservoir Dogs
when she was pregnant with Ted.
I grabbed her hand
when it was time to push,
a breath of air inhabiting
her screams, herself as a mom,
changing inside out and round about
a little louder and longer
than when she sang for Runtmeyer.