FICTION: Red Koi, Gold Koi

“Centuries later,
when only the packaging is left
of a society
that consumed itself,
the remains
of a little pharaoh
inside a decaying refrigerator
will be found,
under a few pyramids of trash.”

Gonzalo Millán


To open the door of the refrigerator in a kitchen in the dark is to see the boy that I was, hunting for fireflies, putting them in a plastic container without tears, just as I do now with these red koi, gold koi.


To open the door of the refrigerator in a kitchen in the dark is to be blinded by the radiance of all those starts of writings I abandoned, which have become big stones swept along by the river of life, indifferently, swiftly, whether I go swimming against, with, or following my own current.


To open the door of the refrigerator is to bring me back that little chick, pushed either to jump out of the nest or tell lies, while airplanes pass outside, and the heart is a spatula on concrete.


To open the door of the refrigerator in a kitchen in the dark sets me down all at once before a deer who looks me in the eyes, prepared to sacrifice its antlers in the gorings that bring sex to the winner.


To open the door of the refrigerator in a kitchen in the dark reminds me of entering a supermarket to touch frozen salmon, as if my hands were a river where they were once again swimming. It reminds me of seeing her arrange her hair using her reflection in the window of an antiques shop, or hearing her split a chocolate bar in the middle of a film. Or, all of a sudden, to see her spreading Nivea cream over herself, naked, while several regions of the country burn.


The open door of the refrigerator in a kitchen in the dark clutches me with its frozen tentacle of light and its influx into my peaceably stagnant waters, where one by one these printed leaves drift down, all for a face like a portable autumn.


To close the door of the refrigerator for a few days is to feel Mike Tyson come up from behind, determined to pull off an ear with a bite, not without saying with strange courtesy how beautiful the pyramids in Chile are.


To open the door of the refrigerator in a kitchen in the dark is to know that the little sound the motor suddenly makes in the most complete darkness detonates this other shiver, climbing up my spine, since you blocked me. A spasm that knows there are kilometres of space between asteroids. The sun is white, not yellow. Of course our heads will never explode without space suits. We would simply die due to lack of oxygen in a few minutes. Time is what goes from one shadow to another between celestial bodies, space trash, stars being born or extinguishing while ice forms in the cooler and a pâté sausage ages that would not cover a slice of bread.


I would never put up with the brutal heat of your planet in this kitchen where I describe my black hole to the lubdub of the beats of my heart swallowing everything. But in the darkness, what does all of this matter? What does it matter whether or not the accusation of betrayal is fair, which with the days is reduced to disloyalty, with such generosity and subtlety.


I miss you a lot, though you are worse than I am in the dismal business of jumping to conclusions. Should I turn on the light in the kitchen? Should I open the fridge again? Though that light dazzles everything as densely as from the start.


What would become of your beauty without the effects of shadow, I wonder when I see the red, the gold koi do turns in a plastic container, as I shut the door.


Teach your proud heart to remain dark within your closed hand. Captive to this sweet obscurity of being together without saying a thing.


To open the door of the refrigerator in a kitchen in the dark makes me remember that notebook you gave me to carry, and I decided to leave blank, as if it were the guard dog of a vast and ridiculous possibility.


To open the door of the refrigerator in a kitchen in the dark is to receive a GIF of a clumsy and loving pug, which afraid of going down the staircase throws itself to one side and falls on a bush, where we lose him from sight in that forever which has never been forever, as the writer from Lautaro said.


Before opening the door of the refrigerator I go back to being that rough and unsociable boy, coolly arrogant before any new defeat or old failure, with a burst pen in the pocket of his high school shirt, looking for something to spread on bread after coming back, slightly inebriated, from his first literary workshop, an entire love poem crossed out by the others at the Galo Sepúlveda library.


To open the door of the refrigerator in a kitchen in the dark is to move too fast, like an asteroid no Hollywood hero could destroy, to smash against the vegetable compartment with nothing to say. It is to grab that last lemon after the explosion, and slice into it with a butcher’s knife, for a piscola or Russian tea I’m not sure.


To open the door of a refrigerator in a kitchen in the dark is to look for something that is not there, while the cold light reminds me of how beautiful the idea is that when we die, we will meet with the beings we loved here on earth.


Love is the result of a mistake, recognised Abbas Kiarostami. To turn myself into a jester tonight helps me to relax my technique, to stop performing with desperation like Joaquín Phoenix, as I close the refrigerator with delicacy, the same sort you demanded without fuss when I masturbated you.


There is no exit from the emergency exit in this mountain of melancholy, where the gaze of the Father is that of the stars. At two in the morning I remember that doctors, as Lermontov said, prescribe one to go to bed at eleven. Today your reply will have no place. It is too soon or too late. I did not absolutely open or close the door of the refrigerator, full or empty of decisive truths, as if the love I profess to you drinks of this cold light more darkness, while I take out the ice trays to fill them.


To open the door of the refrigerator in a kitchen in the dark is to know that there are flights of birds and planes that nobody follows with their sight. Dreams that we do not remember. Cliffs from which nobody jumps. A pile of handwritten letters that will only end up in the trash or the fire. And above all, nights when I don’t know what I have seen, opening or closing the door of the refrigerator.


I dreamt that I was trapped inside a decaying refrigerator in a Canadian rubbish dump. My friends did not hear me. Soon they stopped looking for me and went back to their houses. Outside it gently began to snow. The cold stopped affecting me at some point, and a deep sleep came over me. When I woke up it continued to be dark, I continued to be trapped, and I remembered that I had been a little pharaoh whose tutor in prose arrived drunk that day to give his lesson, his final lesson since he had cancer and not much life remained to him. My little Horus, my little Tutan —said the tutor stroking his moustache in front of the little pharaoh that I was in my dream—, forget everything, my teachings matter a fig because the most intelligent bird is the raven and not the nightingale. While outside the wind, the snow, hit with ever greater force against the household appliance.


I opened the door of the refrigerator for you to flee, hummingbird. To see you numb between the soy sauce and the sesame oil without anything mattering to you is cruel. You did not even desire for me to wrap you in these writings or make me blush reminding you of those dawns and twilights in which you had no game but posing on my hand to drink tea with honey, without me being able to capture you in a photograph.


This is just to say that like William Carlos Williams, I have put some gold raspberries in the refrigerator, which were sold at Líder supermarket. Surely you would have placed them over the pineapple at breakfast, inside the white bowl with the form of a heart. Forgive me if I chose to let them rot, sweet and cold.


When I opened the door of the refrigerator and immediately closed it, I understood that there is nothing more to say in this dark kitchen. Everything within it is more disturbed than I am, a desperate song that tells me I will never meet with life again, but with time.


Red koi, gold koi come and go in this plastic container, waiting for me to open the door of the refrigerator every night when I get home from work, as if all this were also a few lines on paper, crumpled in the hand of a beautiful young woman who after reading it, with fingernails painted red and feet gold, lets out a tear without my seeing where it falls.

Ernesto González Barnert (Temuco, Chile, 1978) has received the National Book Council Award for Best Unpublished Work in 2015, the Eduardo Anguita National Prize in 2009, and the Pablo Neruda Award of Honor from the University of Valparaíso in 2007, in addition to several other recognitions and grants for his poetic work. Among his latest books published are Travelling Light, an anthology organised by Mauro Quesada for the trans-Andean publisher La Carretilla Roja, along with the reedition, also in Argentina, of Works of Light on Water for HD Editions in 2017. In Chile he recently published the book We Were Stars, We Were Music, We Were Time.


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