Short Fiction and Poetry by Begoña Paz

We’ve included images of collages done by author Begoña Paz. They originally appeared in her poetry collection Caixa das bestas. Click on the image for a larger view!

The Weight of My Desire

Ten years of sleeping with him, ten years of rough kisses goodnight, ten years blindly feeling up his crotch, only for him to rudely remove my hand, “calm down already,” after a couple minutes of useless strokes.

There were others. I knew that. That letter, the photo of a blonde on the inside pocket of his suit, the hairdresser’s nipples aiming at my eyes, “your husband is so charming,” the phone calls, the carefully annotated appointments in his agenda. But I was silent, I knotted up my gut and was silent. I didn’t want to lose him. Despite every year’s present, a jar of Pond’s wrinkle cream, despite the insomniac nights on the couch—meanwhile he slept soundly in our bed, despite the unused toothbrush, the dirty socks hung up on the bathroom counter, the briefs with a red mark from the lips of another. I loved him.

I loved him, yes, and I still had the memory to recall his body on top of mine, his groans and my moans and the things he said to me while he pushed himself inside of me over and over, and the final shudder, and that smell and then the delicious heartbeat inside of me, his hand holding my back until sleep came.

But the women came and with them the weeping, the consolation of food, the pounds. He stopped desiring me and I went from victim to culprit. Culprit for knowing the truth and not having the courage to confront it, culprit for awaiting his snores in the dark in order to give myself the pleasure that he denied me, culprit for cheating on my husband with my hand, culprit for thinking, oh god, that it was a much better lover than him.

Ten years. Until one night my hand lighted my fire two, three times, and it wasn’t enough. And I turned towards him, breathed in his sleeping man’s scent, and it was as if a current of fresh air ran across my body, awakening the embers between my legs. And I sat up and straddled him and sunk my sex into his face, restraining his head with my thighs. He, still asleep, responded, and I, the lightest, most beautiful horsewoman in the world, galloped forcefully on top of my husband, hopping fences, causing the branches around the path to quiver, guiding with my thighs the mount which carried me to paradise.

It was afterwards, when I let myself fall on top of him, exhausted and happy, and my ear registered the silence which inhabited his chest, it was then that I knew that my mount had abandoned me definitively halfway through the journey.

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Nunca nada (“Nothing Ever”)

Ice Blue

“Are you going to the bathroom?”

She doesn’t answer. She closes the door, slides the bolt across. She waits, leaned up against the sink, until she hears him leave towards the kitchen. Of course she’s going to the bathroom. She’s in the bathroom. It’s so obvious. Why does he insist on not seeing what’s in front of him? Are you on your period? Is it the mailman? Do you like it like this? All that exists to him is what is said aloud. To say. As long as she doesn’t express it with words, the problem won’t exist. Her monosyllables. The gesture with which she wipes her lips after each kiss. Her vagina becoming drier and drier, a glacier burning beneath a black sun. They don’t mean anything to him. Not even a letter written in her own handwriting would convince him. Only her eyes staring at his face, her words telling him I don’t love you anymore, would succeed in making him realize that there is a problem. Nothing that he can’t solve. He always comes up with a solution.

It’s cold in the bathroom. She wraps herself tightly in her robe. She removes the box from her pocket. Opens it. Places its contents on the sink. Tries to concentrate on the instructions. While she urinates in the toilet, she hears him moving on the other side of the door, in the kitchen. He’s washing the dishes from dinner. He never wanted a dishwasher: what for? He loves doing the dishes for her. She asks herself, one more time, what the fuck she’s doing with a guy who denies her a dishwasher. She has so many reasons to hate him. He’s kind. He’s intelligent. He’s optimistic and responsible. Her friends envy her. They compare him to the much more imperfect specimens they have in their houses. None of the men wins the comparison. None of the women know how lucky they are.

She crumples the instructions between her fingers. She knows how much he would like to be there, at her side. Of course he would prefer the living room. The two of them holding hands while he lets the urine fall onto the paper, waiting for the white cross to change to blue. Ice blue. How appropriate for a Lady Day angel. Angels are cold and perfect, all light. The freezing light of truth. The truth is she doesn’t want for it to look like him. For it to have his eyes nor his lips nor those frozen hands that had never inflamed her skin. The truth is she doesn’t want his genes navigating joined to millions of beings for all eternity. She doesn’t want to contribute to someone like him making love to another man, to another woman, wrapping them in the sticky spider web of his love.

At least she stole this moment from him. A momentary victory. He has a special talent for finding his moment, that instant to freeze into your memory. I was. I did. I felt. She imagines his wet kisses. His rosiness, proud of a job well done. His nervous laugh. The force with which he will hug her only to immediately let go of her, as if she were a fragile object which had to be protected from any harm. She sees herself through his eyes. A precious container, a nesting doll enclosed in a glass case. She sees the long months of safety measures, of suffocating, insufferable displays of affection, of resigned patience in the face of her contempt. She sees all the adoration which awaits her. Ice blue. She takes the dropper, fills it with urine, and deposits a drop over the cross, praying that the frozen blue doesn’t impregnate her life with more love than that which she can bear.

fóra de contas B

Fóra de contas (“Overdue”)

Proof

Yes.
Outside there are men
with moss
between their teeth.
And they’re alive.
And girls like Barbies
with shaved skulls.
Nearly dead.
And cars like pills
for anything and
for nothing,
and pounds
of dreams
that spread
over sidewalks
at twilight
so that we step on them
on our way to the
jobschooljail of
our everyday lives.

Of course what does
*****************it matter to you

If you were opened up
(like a nut,
in the exact right
spot)
they’d only find
a handful of words
***************(me money listen fantastic I know
*******************************************I want)
a cloud of bats
disoriented
beating endlessly
against the walls
of your skull.

The Scream

Munch was right.
Art needs to
be left out
to rot
beneath the sun,
beneath the rain,
to be soaked
in blood
and manure,
insects need to
be left
to defecate
on marble,
to devour
canvases,
so that art
returns
to the earth
like
Munch was right.

Hypocrite2

Did you know?
God doesn’t exist.

We don’t all look at the sun in the same way.
There are people incapable of appreciating the
unappetizing beauty of a Hopper, of a Freud,
vagina-women who make a living
gathering the frustration, the hate,
the loneliness of the fuck-men,
sweet Western grandfathers
who go to the East to
molest foreign grandchildren,
and the war pays into their pocket
and there are awful sicknesses
and so much, so much pain,
and the bad guys always win, or almost
always
and the good guys are always, or almost
always, made of paper.

No, God doesn’t exist.

Because I,
I who knows all this,
I who tells you all this,
I who naturally trembles
when I see
hungry,
mutilated
babies,
children with guns in their hands,
the terror of the old, the young
who don’t want to die,
the pain of their parents,
who won’t see their children
grow up,
I who knows what the world is,
I who hates what the world is,
would only die to be in between your legs.
And I,
I who hangs onto love,
the true compassion
for myself,
I don’t fall dead
from a
divine lightning bolt
that puts things
in their place
once
and
for
fucking
all.

***************************

Red light. You look ahead. On the other side of the street the billboard is changing. It isn’t hard to imagine to what. A naked woman advertising a detergent, a naked woman advertising a vacuum cleaner, a naked woman advertising a perfume. You guess right. Gradually it forms into the image of a naked woman inside a car. The woman is you.

Motel Silviculture

I’ve never
done well with
those bonsai loves
(those ones
that one cares for
and strokes
and monitors
so that they don’t grow too big
to conserve
their diminutive perfection).

I have always
been a
woman of
jungle loves,
excessive,
damp,
mossy,
with desire rotting
between my ever
open
thighs.

Bonsai or jungle?

Decide.
Decide.
Decide.

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E(n)xame

Insomnia

At night,
when I close my eyes,
sometimes I hear voices.
It all sounds so confusing.
So many little voices
speaking simultaneously
scared me at first.
Until one day,
when I caught one tiny
sentence, I understood
what was happening:
all the little
Bego’s that live
inside of my head,
aware of
my fears,
had come to
hum to me.

Ábrete Sésamo

Off the Road

Ravens

Mission impossible:

avoiding
the excrements
that are being left
behind
by the tyrants of
the cornfield.

I don’t want to win.
(In truth
I don’t even know
how,
why
I would have to.)

They do. They,
the ravens,
know it
all,
want it
all.

If to win is
to say
the last
word,
it’s all
theirs.
I don’t need it.

Being right is more
than enough for me.

Bios

Begoña Paz

Begoña Paz was born in A Coruña, Galicia in 1965. She hold’s a bachelor’s degree in English, completed postgraduate studies in culture and gender violence, and holds a master’s degree in Hispanic literatures, focusing on the Galician, Basque, and Catalan languages. Her most recent publication was a book of poetry entitled The Bad Life (2011), and she’s published two works of fiction: the story collection The Wound (2004), and the novel The Best of Intentions (2008), which won the Ribeira Short Novel award. She writes exclusively in Galician and has been included in various Galician fiction and poetry anthologies, as well as having published a children’s book, Norocai, in 2005.

Jacob Rogers

Jacob Rogers was born in Haifa, Israel in 1994. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina, Asheville with a double major in literature and Spanish. He has published an excerpt of Xabier López López’s Xerais Award-winning novel Chains (2013). His translation of Carlos Casares’ novella The Most Reverend is forthcoming in May 2017 with Small Stations Press. He has a passion for independent publishers and the work that is being done in order to bring a wider variety of cultures and literatures to the English-speaking world, and desires to bring more Galician literature into that fold.

A ferida. Copyright (c) Begoña Paz, 2004. A mala vida. Copyright (c) Jorge Espina, 2011. English translation copyright (c) Jacob Rogers, 2016.