THE RED ROOSTER
For Wata, in memoriam
Like garlic bulbs
this whim of blouses
cut so masterfully.
The iron windows.
The paint staining my ovaries.
Sushi is now the language
of the people
and my mighty noodles
wait in a forgotten pot.
Papá told me to detest the Japanese
like everyone says to hate Chileans.
But with so much love,
I find no difference
between the cherry tree, the sakura, the lotus flower, and the olive bush:
In the Atacama, Christ sifts
through red grape seeds.
Peru dies, Wata,
and all I remember is what you said about my aunt:
“She was hot, your aunt Carmen,
she didn’t look Chinese.”
I smiled unoffended, because in Peru nobody
looks like anything.
There was a chifa restaurant.
You ate wonton soup
with your Chinese friends,
and as we searched for an emblem
to overcome the centimeter and a half of
difference in our eyelids,
a red rooster
loosed a sound louder than nothingness.
Our Peru is dying.
The rooster will sing again when the stone flies.
BEHIND MOUNT FRIGHT
I was waiting for our strange love, for you to tuck scales in your pockets,
and slit my indigos with scalpels.
A surgeon of doubt is a good man, I’ve lied:
I never wanted a family, or a house.
I longed, a little, for a dialogue with the unknown,
I would like for you to perform amputations
on the corner of desperation,
for you to slay the faun spying on us, here
between rooted moons and salads of hypnotized
The bottle of Cusqueña is unchilled and will not inebriate.
Fear in every step draws me toward your voice.
your voice exists, here,
in the damp garden of wireless valleys.
I bump into clouds, couches, the Chinese chest that survived shipwreck
and the invasion of Nanjing.
No embroidered skirts, or limes that bleed.
Argentine masks hide their devotion to the black spirits of the sea.
00000The moth-eaten blouse of a father opening and closing his mouth like a frog,
old now, blind now, and thus loving…
His finger pointing.
An ear of corn brought from Cajamarca, desiccated.
What neverending vice makes you master of our fear?
Turn the lever and descend till you take pity on my fright.
Do not attempt to shuck the absurd flower of my doubts about the Fatherland.
We’ll celebrate over the graves, you’ll see,
that death brings sadness is another lie.
It’s just a matter of adjusting.
Spectating, a task that goes hand in hand with your eloquence
The rectangular voice of a TV reporter bakes petals and sprigs into stone,
to seduce children with no serpents or bumper cars.
You are a gilded man full of fear.
We crank the gramophone and pay to watch you cry.
“And keep you in the rear of your affection,
Out of the shot and danger of desire.
The chariest maid is prodigal enough,
If she unmask her beauty to the moon”
(Laertes to Ophelia)
There, dead, lie I beneath the wheels/ no one could clench a doubt against you.
Me, poor, brown, coal for your skin/ You, the kingdom’s raptor.
Me daughter of the commoners’ ossuary, on Calle Guadalupe,
River of Emotion I have been/ You, mighty Eagle, king of North America.
You cry for me, you say?
Who’s to believe your bald calumny?
You love all the precious false doves that plunge down at your feet.
Me: black lily of the desert.
We had a daughter.
You knew, when you reached the throne
you’d need to invent ghosts.
Circus of and for jackal gods.
a shove brittling in appearance…
I’ve come undone and why matters to no one.
The king seeks his crown on the asphalt. Me,
I ought to go down to the bottom of the sun.
Without my shadow/ you, denuded of me,
decorated in shields and poisoned swords.
Red wine with notes of expiration.
You, my immortal victim, my bona fide galaxy, kingly tear.
Me, beneath the wheels.
Translated by Jennifer Shyue
Selected and edited by Eli Urbina Montenegro
JULIA WONG KCOMT was born into a tusán (Chinese Peruvian) family in Chepén, Peru, in 1965. She traveled from an early age, and her perceptions of country borders, different cultures, and diversity in ethnicity and religion became a strong motivation to write. She is the author of 16 volumes of poetry, including Un salmón ciego (Borrador Editores) and 18 poemas de fake love para Keanu Reeves (Cascada de Palabras); five books of fiction; and two collections of hybrid prose. She currently lives between Lima and Lisbon.