100 Refutations: Day 94

Jovita Has Died

…Through a still street, beneath a stainless sky and a languid June sun, slowly, a splendid procession goes by. Upon their naked foreheads, a strange reflection of sadness. Polished gentlemen in black suits, and upon their shoulders, a coffin. Their faces, quite pale, and wet their eyelashes, while brightly shines the clear morning, soaked in perfume. Step by step goes the procession, walking as if upon velvet, noiselessly, and even their steps appear to meditate. The bodies lean, as if carrying invisible bundles—maybe pain, maybe tenderness—or hearts, loaded with sentiment, weighing too much, forcing them to walk in silence, very slowly, every body leaning…. The enormous procession goes in silence through the street, slowly, in the pale morning, in the shape of a vision, beneath a blond and languid sun.

“Young marquises in black ties, what is the nature of your suffering? Why do you go so quiet, so sad? Beautiful students, where do you go? Your faces are desolate, your pupils inconsolable! And in that box, that you so timidly touch, sacred unction, tell me, my friends, what do you carry? So delicate a cargo, marquises, walking so slowly and so pensively?”

“Yes, somnambulist of extravagant silhouette, yes, we suffer greatly, and inside this box…. Inside this box we carry a dead Madonna Lily that a storm did fell. All this great procession breathes still her perfume, dark flower, the insignia of the nerve and the love! Inside the box, locked away, the blue cadaver of a new star who longed to be interred to shine more brightly; she is inside the fragrant casket, little princess, whom white fairies called Jovita.”

Marquises, friends in black ties, and dignified students: step lightly, walk slowly that Jovita sleeps, that Jovita has died.

In the great cage of the world she was a bird, a girl who wished to fly, who wished to be a sigh. And she had no gate through which she could escape, for all the width of earth, for all the vastness of sky.

Oh, the satanic cage, no exit a bird could devise! Oh, the secret gate that mystery guards, that which none can predict, where and when it may swing open! She has been bird of diamond eyes and seagull soul, in that enormous cage, that sealed still remains.

The Jovita, whose eyes are sung by the pale poet, “Let the shadow of her destiny vanish, as if struck by Venus’s gaze,” she had initiative to improvise a hole from whence life could escape. She pressed the round lips of a revolver to her forehead. And then the sound of a drowned stampede. The noise of a formidable kiss, a kiss of lead that Destiny placed upon her temple, a kiss soaked in mystery and despair. And through that hole escaped beloved Jovita, in flight, that sweet June afternoon, and the wall was sprayed with lukewarm brain and soul.

The chrysalis turned butterfly. You keep her remains company. The morning sun stops a second to see her go down to the place where all movement converges, where it rests a moment, the place where all of time’s injuries lead us.

Leave now, then, from the necropolis one by one. Step lightly, walk slowly, that Jovita sleeps, that Jovita has died.

And the somnambulist of extravagant silhouette uncovers himself and mumbles, “May the earth be soft for you.”


Manuel Ortiz Guerrero

Manuel Ortiz Guerrero (1897-1933) was a poet, playwright, and musician. He was born in Villarrica, Paraguay and began to gain some popularity after the publication of one of his earliest poems, “Loca,” featured in the journal Letras. He was the founder of the literary journal Órbita, and his verses were often accompanied by the music of his friend José Asunción Flores. Guerrero published numerous works of poetry, prose, and drama in his lifetime, and two of his books were published posthumously. He was also the composer of the song “India,” which was later declared the national song by the Paraguayan government. He died of leprosy in the company of his lifelong partner, Dalmacia.

Lina M. Ferreira C.-V.

Lina M. Ferreira C.-V. earned MFAs in creative nonfiction writing and literary translation from The University of Iowa. She is the author of Drown Sever Sing from Anomalous Press and Don’t Come Back from Mad River Books, as well as editor, with Sarah Viren, of the forthcoming anthology Essaying the Americas. Her fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and translation work has been featured in journals including Bellingham ReviewChicago ReviewFourth GenreBrevityPoets & Writers, and The Sunday Rumpus, among others. She won Best of the Net and Iron Horse Review’s Discovered Voices Award, has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, and is a Rona Jaffe fellow. She moved from Colombia to China to Columbus, Ohio to Richmond, Virginia, where she works as an assistant professor for Virginia Commonwealth University. Visit www.linawritesessays.com.

English translation copyright (c) Lina M. Ferreira C.-V., 2018.