3 poems by Ari Belathar – The Feminist Wire

3 poems by Ari Belathar


Sleepless song


If you had seen the sea

flooded with flowers

and my words in your hands

in my hands the air

burning between two drops of dew

you would understand the rumour

of abandonment that grows within me


              language of a dead child

              scars and kisses


each word that I pronounce

is a long fast

a country of terrestrial fish

a tree


and I have felt the night

like an irrigation ditch of blood

I have felt the night

in its darkest truth

I have seen the other side of light


this is all I know


                  who did not know

                              how to die


I shout

to listen to myself in each echo


while a song resonates

in the abandoned house of the poem



              there was a country

             where I saw a boat a bridge

                                      a woman


the distant story forms like a cloud


now I only have

auguries each time more confusing

and a map covered by mould

if I recovered everything

I would deposit here

in order to be classified

that which belongs to memory

that which belongs to oblivion

and if everything were here

the morning would be left empty


and I could enter




and there would be no one who wrote






“…a las desalentadas amapolas

daré tu corazón por alimento.”

—Miguel Hernández.



I do not find anything to tell you

the fish are singing

     so many drowned birds

                               flying over the sea of your hands

each morning

you come –regardless–

with your shadow on a leash

with the pervasive sadness

of the streetcars

breaking the dawn

shuddering the beds

of those who are trying to die


the night

is a woman’s song





your shadow wanders

over the mirrors

the curtains

the trash cans

the embassies


no one sleeps

this night is a lethargic fury



expelled by the tide

float down

my throat


I have nailed your shadow

into the corners of the house

underneath the bed

where I keep summer clouds

tulle veils nibbled by worms

and suitcases filled with rain

yesterday I took inventory


on stock


a series of mispronounced words

humidity on the walls

and the precocious extinction of the species


I lost the sea when I crossed the border

                                           it fell off me


this city does not know

of shipwrecks

ships of ill sails


it prefers

abandoned factories

and melancholy women

who —like me— kill themselves

Sunday after Sunday

jumping off drawbridges


An ochre tinged afternoon

                                 is enough to die for

you used to say

while putting into my hands

an incomplete metaphor

a collection of overly lyrical verses

a flock of birds off course


and I no longer know

what I want

a cat

a diploma

an umbrella

or a gunshot



we have been planning your funeral

they insist the casket

should be covered with clamshells

tell me what you think?



“explicar con palabras de este mundo

que partió de mí un barco llevándome”

—Alejandra Pizarnik.


I too could write about gardens

and it would not be difficult to remember

a bouquet of roses

to imagine a different life


a sea long

abandoned to memory


but I am afraid to forget

the name of objects

to collect the dust of my steps

losing my words

before saying a final goodbye


it saddens me

to find a woman

with whom I could fall in love

and stay still

pretending that the gag

on my shadow is nothing

trying to make it seem

that it is very common

to live between the cracks


it torments me

to be invaded by a place

in which I have never been

bent by the weight of great absence

(dying of you)


I have let my good sense

and my hendecasyllables escape


hardly conscious

I speak to you of pain like a tree

that has forgotten to feel

I speak to you of pain like a diligent boy

who cuts memories

and sticks them in his album

writing with straight and clear lines

but you do not know

you do not know how much it costs

to encircle time and reason

to calm anguishes

two by two

half yes half no


you do not know

in which language I write these anxieties

(quiet hollow deaf)

word by word


while I remain suspended

over my own edge

covered with tension and tenderness

trying to fall without success


trying to say

what is exactly necessary

so that the silence of the stones

and the tender texture of the afternoon

(submerging in the darkest green)

will not disappear

in the fright of the useless word


when the only possibility

is to collapse on a piece of paper

to place time bombs

in the cities that I leave behind

and continue being everywhere

having already left



nobody said that the poem

would be the answer



this is not an evening

not even an afternoon


and there is no time

there is no time

to go back to those gardens

to erase these years

and disappear into the multitude


Ari Belathar


Ari Belathar is a Mexican poet and playwright in exile. Between 1994 and 2001, she facilitated creative writing and popular theatre workshops for indigenous women and children throughout Mexico. She was also a founding member of the first Mexican community radio station during the student strike at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1999. After being kidnapped and tortured by the Mexican National Army in 2001 due to her work as an independent journalist and human rights defender, she escaped to Canada. A participant in Artscape’s Gibraltar Point International Artists Residency Program, she has published poetry in literary journals and anthologies around the world. Belathar served as Writer-in-Residence through PEN Canada’s Writers in Exile Program at the University of Windsor in 2006. That same year, she took part in the Wired Writing Studio at The Banff Centre. In 2009, Brandon University appointed her as the university’s first Writer-in-Residence, as a result of this nine-month appointment, Belathar published her first chapbook, The Cities I Left Behind by Radish Press. Belathar’s work has been awarded support by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. In the summer of 2010, Scirocco Drama published The TAXI Project—a collective play about exile, originally produced by PEN Canada, with Ari Belathar as lead–writer. Currently Belathar is working on the development of La Danza del Venado, a multidisciplinary play inspired by her own experience of crossing the border into the United States as a child to reunite with her father.


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