Rosa Alcala, American poet, recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship, and runner-up for a PEN Translation Award, she is the editor and co-translator of New & Selected Poems of Cecilia Vicuña (Kelsey Street Press, 2018). 




Rosa Alcala

I was trying
to get the water hot.

I was unwrapping
a tiny soap.

I was preparing to take
a shower with you
dead in the other room.

And should I wash my hair
does lemongrass go with
grief. How can
my body shower itself
like it always did.

I was meditating on the
reflexive verb
in Spanish
to avoid the next step.

Then I was throwing out
take-out containers
bottles of wine
from the night before.

We had gathered and
told stories around
your motionless form
and though you couldn’t speak
we tried to make you laugh.

Carlos impersonating
the Irish priest
sent to give the last rites.
Sorry, he said in a brogue,
a Peruvian priest
would have made
more sense.

And then he and José
left and I slept inches
from you and listened
to you breathe.

When you stopped
we gathered