Two Poems by Andrea Cote Botero

A Corner to Stay

You no longer need, María,
the soul of things devoid,
they’re nothing but the bones of this lifeless house.

Don’t search for your body’s hollow in the walls
that don’t know about you,
don’t ask about you,
for scars in the air
embalmed in blue
only here as proof of an overturned sky.

The landscape is all you see,
yet it doesn’t know you exist,
just as these things not saying a word about you,
your wounds.

Remember, María,
that you are the house and the walls
that you came to knock down,
childhood is a land
where fear longs for
I’m not sure which dark corner to stay.


I speak of the mountains where life grows slowly
the ones that don’t dwell in my port of light,
where all is desert and ash
and your smile is a look faded away.

It’s January there, the month of the unburied dead
and the earth is the first corpse.
don’t you remember?
don’t you see?
There our voices are dried up
like our skin
and our heels burn
for not pressing to know
about houses set to fire.

I speak, María,
of this earth, the thirst I live
and the bed where life is laid to rest.

Stop to consider, little girl,
this isn’t living
and life is anything else that exists
damp in the ports where water does bloom,
and each stone isn’t a fire.

Remember, María,
that we are
feasts for dogs and birds,
scorched men,
empty shells
of what we were before.
What are you made of?, my girl,
Why do you think you can stitch the crevice to the landscape
with the thread of your voice,
when this earth is a wound bleeding
in you and in me
and in all things
made of ash?
On our earth,
ravens watch us with your eyes
and flowers wither
out of hate for us
and the earth breaks open holes
urging us to die.


Andrea Cote Botero

Andrea Cote Botero (b. 1981, Barrancabermeja, Colombia) is the prize-winning author of the poetry collections Puerto Calcinado (2013), La ruina que nombro (2015), and Chinatown a toda hora (2017). Recognized as one of the most relevant new voices in contemporary Latin American poetry, she has been published in numerous anthologies and invited to read her work at poetry events in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Her poems have been translated into many languages, including Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, and Macedonian. Cote Botero is also a translator of poetry from English into Spanish and an assistant professor of creative writing in the Bilingual MFA program at the University of Texas, El Paso.

Olivia Lott

Olivia Lott’s translations of Colombian poetry have most recently appeared in or are forthcoming from MAKEMantis, Río Grande Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Waxwing, and World Literature Today. Her book-length translation (with Barbara Jamison) of The Dirty Text by Cuban poet Soleida Ríos is forthcoming with Kenning Editions. She is a Ph.D. student and Olin Fellow in Hispanic studies and translation studies at Washington University in St. Louis.

Copyright (c) Andrea Cote Botero, 2013. English translation copyright (c) Olivia Lott, 2018.