Translated by Daniel Alarcón.
In the months before the end of my last year of high school, I began working in the afternoons at a small printing press. My mother was not opposed. I was friendly with the owner as well as his wife, an enormous and attractive woman who visited my house now and then so my mother could cut her hair or dye it in whatever color current style demanded. I learned the publishing trade with the enthusiasm of one who hoped to see his own poems in print one day. For the time being, I was only in charge of placing letters of lead type, and I was always careful not to get them out of order, so that I wouldn’t have to place them all again, line by line, as tended to happen whenever Señora Leonor, the owner’s wife, came by the print shop. Her presence was always a bit unsettling to me, and she was well aware of this. I suspect she had always known it, even before I did, ever since I was a child, when I didn’t understand the transitory pleasure that came from brushing against her legs or her hips on the pretext of playing with my little cars, before I was sent out to the patio, leaving Señora Leonor and that smile that would electrify me years later in her husband’s print shop. If her visits were sporadic, it only made the effect more disconcerting: an unease that I tried to pour into my adolescent poems, to be transferred later onto an old plank of wood in the composition box that I kept hidden beneath the other work of the day—that is, if my shame didn’t force me to undo it all. Read More