Poems: Jessica Sequeira

'But I Thought That Book Was Suppressed!' Gasped Bess. 'How on Earth Did You Ever Get It?'

The New School


Let’s erase the whiteboard
and start again
with the small illustrated
Larousse dictionary

a Bakelite telephone
the first X-ray
Mao’s Red Book

an imaginary rocket
the cover of a text by K. E. Tsiolkovski
“Exploration of Cosmic Spaces
by Reactive Motors”

the 1987 intifada
an uprising of Palestinian youths
on the West Bank

a confrontation between
Boers and Bantus
in South Africa


Let’s look with attention
at the boy there

who always wants to draw
instead of reading

who when they talk about professions
unfailingly responds
“I want to be an autodidact!”

he wears a sky-blue cape to school


Let’s do away with sadness
which should disappear

like the rote method
for memorizing
past-tense verbs

there are new conjugations
of the sentimental grammar
to learn.

Sauerkraut Restaurant

A white-smocked waiter approaches, leaving
a silver platter filled with shredded cabbage for you
and a tender potato tart for me, to accompany
the two porcelain kegs of satisfying heft which appeared
some time ago. Already I’m outside myself, taking
stock: here I am in this restaurant pretending
it’s a place far away, a fine Kabarett where
all things (wallpaper, lighting, music) serve to abet
the pretty farce. Your mouth describes a market town
with scrubbed streets and timber-framed houses
in neat rows, flowers in windows and rivulets
that run in the streets of their own accord.
Fresh water emerging from some mysterious fount —
where? No clue, essence is the fundamental
German problem. Laughter, another pint appears.
Just a minute, and please forgive this excess
sincerity, I’d like to say how beautiful it is
that these enigmatic currents exist, these towns
where grocery store milk isn’t SanCor or soap Cif,
where what’s new develops naturally (historically)
rather than through revolution or rupture. How nice it is
to be your accomplice, pretending we’re somewhere
where the bell tower clock tolls a different hour
and brick & bridges & cobblestone & stars are other.
Again the waiter — Die Dame übernimmt die Rechnung
you stage whisper (in reality we split the bill),
and when we exit it even seems for a moment
that the street isn’t the Avenida Santa Fe and the
palo santo burned by sidewalk vendors smells of spruce.
Jessica Sequeira is a writer and translator living in Buenos Aires.

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