Excerpts from Breach




information enough for two lives. he says. get to one
side. there’s something underneath. the cross-section shows the vein
ending here. that’s its heartbeat
bombarding the surface with metal

I’d be driving the cylinder through that enormous bone. I’m
sorry he says. you can’t trust the surface sample

only then footprints their aerial touch on the



an epidemic. those tiny mouths devouring the
faces the walls the letters. blink of an eye
their doors their crops. maybe a tidal wave

wasn’t the line of succession recovered at some point?

under the lens the life forms do their strange dances
their minuscule heads and extremities. I’m telling you
I saw it. august sweat and a pinprick. It was there. so
it’s true. he blinks. he says. change the stain.

it’s not us

that sharp pain the desire to seal off our

dogs pulling carts drawings snakes and
geometry. but by then it had already happened

their calligraphy fingers. that secondhand trace



all of them were new

positioned behind the glass as if some had emerged from
others. that family resemblance.

pick one. he says. impossible. it would pale under the lights
more ornament than domestic animal.
impossible. we’ve come this far, doesn’t that
mean anything?



the bird at the center. between gemstones and
tiny chains

its eyes at the center. between sand and bits of

the flash at the center. that arrow of light. the distance
between eye and void



bird nebula. bird swarm. too quickly.
they’re like nerves. he says. like neurons.

or maybe their crackling

the arid mouths of their offspring. excrement a
warm fruit feeding soil



they adjust the lenses. they’re disappearing he says. the strip of
iodine smothers them. their fingers move slowly
breathing scaled down to microscopic. they’re
white I told you they’re white. it’s starting again
on its own. he says. this twisted mass


they open the papillae now the seminal cut
they open up like a fish mouth dead spine
its clumsy epidermis
what’s all that noise
all that aperture


a scar that splits time for the living


it’s what they were expecting. a reanimated being
they clap and
clink glasses with specimens spilling them
onto the floor and that clumsy defibrillated
heart they applaud in their army boots

it’s what they were expecting
it speaks a signless language


they lay them out with their arms stretched upward
it’s the best way to sew them. he says. stitch up the arm.
the elbow the wrist. to give the appearance of
normalcy. use a fine thread for the sutures.
we’ve been doing this for years. at first we thought
the work would run out. but no. there are more
and more of them. without eyes or legs. they’ve been sunk in the
mud a long time. some can’t be fixed
they lay them out legs apart
we have prototypes of faces and torsos. some turn out
better than others. the trouble is then they all
look alike. better that than going around with a
dismembered body
everyone nods. the ones with holes and the sewn up
ones. they all nod and clap their hands



that’s the last photo they took on the trip
it was so hot and the mosquitos wouldn’t stop circling
she said
as if there were something wrong with them he said
but they weren’t biting at least it didn’t seem like it and the clothes
were heaped on the bed like a woman
the surrounding materials rotted the ceiling
melted by the heat and in the floor
enormous holes opened up
to the ocean
he says
like the eyes of a crab
she thinks


since the moment he said: yes we’ve veered off a little. the
garden she’d go to whenever black fish
devoured her mouth filled with red trunks with red
branches a piece of red sky. he should have said something
as the images buildings collapsing
appeared again and again. the image
went bad he said. yes. even the breathing was red. they collapsed
turning into white dust. they should know
it’s not working she told him
that’s when she noticed the missing
umbilical cord


toothless at kilometer fifty-three. overhead
a hand-shadow-bird. it’s a place where
she watches his beard in the mirror where the rest of
cars feed on each other. eat and
what does the bird need to be a bird
she puts her hand out the window. hard air raises its
chorister voice
now everything is an original copy. the
only beak of the only bird that would never again
cross the sky

the origin makes them want to pull over and vomit on the


the arm was first. it was still kilometer
fifty three. time moves so slowly. on the
black ground a petroleum rainbow
they wanted to scatter gasoline watch the flames. too
late said the uniformed man soon they’ll be coming for
them. it was also too late for contractions
then they saw clothes and a shoe in the road
before the sky stopped shedding light they brought out
white beds and positioned the arm there
still at kilometer fifty-three and the arm appeared to
wave happily as it disappeared
in the car-crib


then faces displayed in glass jars what a laugh
a leg that doesn’t make it through the screening
jump on the mattresses dodge cardboard hedges
recognize him by the foot the throat clearing a
scar on the hip. the man with the badges comes
toward the couples so solemn


exhaustion is another way of saying I love you the
greasy with circles closing like
the way hands should have closed
she remembers a fruit that extended around her
laid out on the ground
the fruit like round almonds plumped up with pulp
like her body ample with
weightless pulp
exhaustion is another kind of prayer the skin
completely unstuck leaves her out in the open
a tiny god rare and hermetic


with their little black feet they chew at the corners of
mirrors. there’s no remedy for this plague he says. pulling
the cord that attaches his heart. as if
a great martyr he nodded. it’s better to give in.
tiny Aztecs making nests the shape of
pyramids. they’ll be resistant to the poison. they eat it as if
nothing. sweating. their heart in a pin bed
she watched the black stain climb the wall
drawing equations
they’ll be resistant to poison. not to blunt force


her hand opens inside his chest like a leaf. the
highway unfolds the intermittent headlight grows.
cuts like cherries in the low trees
shrunken by bacteria he says
or open the cranks the cases. everything skin even
the obstinate wood the worms trapped
inside its contraction the numbers continually
melting images of the last and
laminated animal

that was the first photo they took on the trip


Pilar Fraile Amador

Pilar Fraile Amador is a poet and fiction writer widely considered to be one of the most unsettling voices in the Spanish literary landscape. She is author of the novel Las ventajas de la vida en el campo, the essay Materiales para la ficción, the short story collection Los nuevos pobladores, and five books of poetry. Her work has been translated into Norwegian, Portuguese, Catalan, and English, and has appeared in the U.S. in such venues as The Paris Review, Chicago Review, Two Lines, Gulf Coast, and The Brooklyn Rail. Her poetry collections Larva & Hedge and Breach have been fully translated into English by Lizzie Davis, and several of her poems were translated and anthologized by Forrest Gander in Panic Cure: Poems from Spain for the Twenty-First Century.

Lizzie Davis

Lizzie Davis is a writer, translator from Spanish and Italian to English, and editor at Coffee House Press. Her recent translation projects include works by Pilar Fraile Amador, Daniela Tarazona, Daniel Saldaña París, Ezio Neyra, and others, as well as My First Bikini by Elena Medel (Jai-Alai Books), a co-translation of Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions with Valeria Luiselli (Coffee House Press), and Ornamental by Juan Cárdenas (Coffee House Press). She has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Translators’ Conference and Art: Omi for her translations of Pilar Fraile Amador. For more information, please visit her website: lizziedavistranslation.com.

Copyright (c) Pilar Fraile Amador, 2014. English translation copyright (c) Lizzie Davis, 2019.