The following is from Romina Paula’s novel, August. Paula is the author of ¿Vos me querés a mí? and Agosto. She is an Argentinian playwright, novelist, director, and actor. Jennifer Croft, recipient of Fulbright, PEN, and National Endowment for the Arts grants, has been published in New York Times, n+1, The New Republic, and elsewhere. She holds a PhD, an MFA, and is the founding editor of The Buenos Aires Review.
I realize—I think I realize—that I want to leave, but I also know I want to take you with me, and it’s impossible because you’re here, very here, which I just now fully understood. From there, from Buenos Aires, I can miss you so contemplatively, look at you, at us, as though admiring it in a shop window, our common/shared past, behind glass, and I can get into a funk about it but at a safe remove, removed by that pane. There, on the shelf, there’s a weak light that dilutes it down even further, gives it a halo of unreality, of something that happened far away and long ago, something one can step back from to observe, observe from afar, something one attends, as though it were something else, far away, removed from the body. But here it isn’t like that, I get here and you’re everywhere. In the cold, in the morning, in the pillow, in your jacket, in your mom. And outside, in the incline, the rubble, the asphalt, and right where the asphalt starts to be dirt almost imperceptibly, and you can’t quite tell which one consumes the other. There, and in barking, in little dogs’ barks, puppies of puppies of puppies. At the market, the river, the bus station. On weekend outings. In teenagers. In the teenagers on the corners. On the curbs of the sidewalks. On the steps leading up to people’s houses. In young couples making out. In that saliva, you’re there, too. In the night and in the frost. In that chill and in the drop, precipitous, in the temperature when—right when—the sunlight stops. In the cars headed for the river, in naps when the sun’s intense. In the rubber on the car window that gets overheated. In the arm that rests against that rubber and gets burned and tanned and has yellow hairs and sun splotches. In the legs over the imitation-leather seat, sweaty. In those drops of sweat that slide over the imitation leather and make those adolescent legs in a skirt or a pair of shorts stick to it. In the song that happens to be playing on the radio right then and sets the soundtrack for that moment. In the poplars that cast a little bit of shade along that river and on that car when it’s parked in that one spot, right by the river and its little bed, its timid summer riverbed. In those adolescent legs, one, two, several, that stretch out over that river’s rocks and let the water bump up against them but not cover them, the legs, the adolescents, but it does cool them off under that high noon southern sun that burns and overheats. In that wind that provides a little relief on the shore of that river, especially in the shade of those poplars, and it moves those leaves of those poplars and it makes them sound like rain. In the ears of those teenagers in the water, in the little trickle of the river, in their talking in half-whispers, murmurs, because these are confessions, and the water transmits/transports the sound and they don’t want to be heard by the other kids who are lying down in the shade of those trees. In the music that’s still coming from the radio of the car and in those cigarettes belonging to those teenagers who rest now in the shade of those trees listening to that music, even if it’s not exactly listening, even if it’s just a backdrop. In the kids who glance over at kids in the river, teenagers with few clothes on, T-shirts, shorts, who laugh and tell each other secrets to the streaming of that current. In the scarceness of the clothing on that adolescent skin, tanned and exposed by the river, in the river, watched intermittently by those other adolescents in the shade of those poplars. In that and in the progression of desire. In its realization or suspension, in its coming to fruition or its utter frustration. In the back seat of some car, of that one or any other that looks like that one, in the shade of those trees or of others, in the afternoon or at night. In those kisses. In that languid sweat. In that pulling apart. Those teardrops, one or another of those tears that plop atop one or another of those rocks or on the steps leading up to all of those houses, one of them, never one’s own, never the same. In that pulling apart or in that pleasure, in the pleasure also taken from its being weird, new, different. In those tastes, in those smells, in those fluids. In those new fluids, different, foreign and one’s own; parts of someone else’s body in one’s own, parts of one’s body in someone else’s. In that exchange, in the pleasure of that exchange or in that pulling apart. In closed eyes, in doing and in letting things be done. In wanting and refusing. In negation and advance. In disobedience and plundering. In plundering and in the pleasure of plundering, and disobedience. In those afternoons, those rivers, music. At the time of day when the skin starts to itch from the sun and from other things. The time of day when the sun was too much, and there’s no going back, no undoing it, arms and legs in the water, brown, exposed to the sun. At the start of a chilly summer night, a cold that never goes away because it wouldn’t dream of leaving, because this is where it comes from, from this beginning of a night. In the attention paid to the start of a night that does not then occur, in that suspension that gets called sunset, although it isn’t, let’s not call it setting because it never really sets; in a beginning, at the start of something, let it not be night and let it not fall and let it not elapse and let it never go away, this, too, in this, as well; on that chilly summer night that won’t ever end because it will not begin, because it’s always just going to seem like it’s beginning and not, and that way it will stay, as the start of a night that isn’t and that won’t be, no/ever, a night.
From AUGUST. Used with permission of Feminist Press. Copyright © 2017 by Romina Paula.