to Julio Cortazar
We lie calmly in this room, thousands of kilometers from Buenos Aires, we lie withdrawn into our own bodies, we lie next to the other, adorning each other in touches. We lie the same way, completely the same: twin sisters. An early childhood memory often passes through my head. Alexandra and myself standing in front of the mirror, and we are looking not at doubleness, but at quarterness, numberless combinations of reflection: I melt into the Alexandra next to me, I melt into the Alexandra in the mirror, I melt into my own reflection in the mirror. Looking at her face on the smooth surface, then for the first time (and we weren’t older than five) I felt the need for complete closeness to her. (Or was it maybe a need for complete closeness to myself?)
Our mother would leave us to bathe in the tin basin, and I called her every Sunday morning to come as fast as possible so that my fingers could slide along her skin and hers along mine.
At night, in the dark room–where the snoring of our grandmother, the occasional farts of our stepfather, and the mumbled prayers of our mother mixed up in her dreams–my lips searched for her lips, her fingers groped between my legs, searching for the pulse that throbbed like my heart under her touch.
We lie restless in this room, thousand of kilometers from Buenos Aires, while her tongue, like the hands of a clock, encircles my right nipple, we lie carrying in ourselves the memories of the darkness of the room thousands of kilometers away, while the tongue of my sister goes lower and lower, the darkness of the night in which we saw our mother’s death, the tongue of my sister touches my belly button, licks it, while we feel the weight of the memory of the night when our stepfather tied us to our beds and for the first and last time showed us what the male body can do with a female, he showed us just several paces from our mother’s dead body, he hit my sister, and I felt the pain of the blows, he raped her, and I lost my virginity together with her, and the darkness of that room and everything that happened that night returns to me while my sister’s tongue goes down on me, licks my clitoris, and I touch her hair and keep quiet, if you can call sweet moaning quiet.
These shores are not La Plata, nor is the Seine the Atlantic Ocean, but it is still water. It can grab and take away, and I know it, I know it as I approach the Seine in a flash now, while I fall from the Neife Bridge. There is no other way out but this hushed departure, there is no other way out of the tunnel we entered when we left Buenos Aires five years ago, running from ourselves, from our past, from our unwanted future, from the crowds in the streets that yelled the name of Juan Peron, from the fear of what the regime of Juan Peron could do to us if they discovered our love. This too is an escape, an escape that will be successful, unlike the pervious one, for in running away from Buenos Aires we took our past with us, and émigré reality pressed upon us here (Paris is not the city of lights). Now I’m just a foot away from the water of the Seine, and I see my face in the Seine, and I don’t feel that this is the reflection of my face, but I see Georgina’s face, and I plunge into the water, into that face, into Georgina, I fall into her and into myself and into the water at the same time, I sink into the water and into death this cold morning of nineteen fifty-three, I sink after leaving on the very surface of the water everything I have carried in myself for the last fourteen years.
It is spring, the twenty-second spring after her death. I walk on the Neife Bridge, I walk with the cancer that I carry in my right breast, the nipple of which Alexandra nibbled before she left forever, I walk expecting to encounter death, for the doctor was direct: “You have just a few more days to live.” He told me last Friday. I walk on the bridge alone, I look at the water running under me, under the bridge, I look at the different, and still the same, water into which she jumped without telling me she would do it. I try to see her face in the water, and all I can see is a feeling that envelops me all the time, circles around me, and I feel as if the feeling falls into the water, it falls into the Seine, I see how the feeling that pierced me to the very marrow of my bones every time I thought of the ultimate entanglement of destinies that builds constellations in the Earth, constellations that can be seen only from a star, sinks.
Translated by: Elizabeta Bakovska