LA CRESTA DE ILIÓN
Now, time has passed by, I ask in the same incredulous manner. How is it possible for someone like me to allow a stranger to enter my house during a stormy night?
I doubted to open the door. For a while I debated between closing the book I was reading or continuing to sit on my couch, in front of the lit up chimney, with an attitude as if nothing had happened. Finally, her insistence beat me. I opened the door. I observed her. And I allowed her to enter.
The weather, certainly, had worsened at a fast pace during those days. Suddenly, without warnings, Fall moved through the coast as if it was at home. There were long nights and meager mornings, mild winds, skies cloaked in the evening. And later came Winter. And the rain of Winter. One gets used to everything, it’s true, but the rain of winter —grey, endless, bland— is difficult to digest. These are the types of things that inescapably take one to nestle at home, in front of the chimney, full of boredom. Perhaps that is why I opened the door of my house: tedium.
I would deceive myself, and I would deceive all of you, without a doubt, if I so much as mention the weary and lengthy storm that accompanied her apparition. I remember, above all, her eyes. Suspended stars inside the devastating face of a cat. The eyes were enormous, so vast, as if they were mirrors, achieving the effect of expansion all around. Very quickly I had the opportunity to confirm this first intuition: the rooms grew under her gaze; the halls stretched out; the closets became infinite horizons; the narrow entrance, paradoxically reluctant to her welcome, completely opened up. And that was, I want to believe, the second reason I allowed her to enter my house: the expansive power of her gaze.
If I halt myself now, I would still be lying. In reality there, under the storm of Winter, surrounded by the empty space created for me by her eyes at that moment, what really captured my attention was the right pelvic bone due to the way in which it leaned over the doorframe and the weight of the water over the skirt with faded flowers, it let itself to be seen under the unhemmed blouse right above the elastic of the waistline. It took me a while to remember the specific name of that part of the bone, without a doubt, the search began in that instant. I desired her. Men, I am sure, will understand me without the need of adding another comment. I tell women that this occurs frequently and without a stable pattern. I also warn you that this cannot be reproduced artificially: all of you as much as we are disarmed when we carry it out. I would dare to argue that in fact, this can only happen if both of us are disarmed, but with like many other things, I could be wrong. I desired her, I said. Immediately. There was the characteristic stroke of the lower abdomen just in case I dared to doubt it. Also, there was, and above all, imagination. I imagined her eating blackberries— with fleshy lips and the tips of her fingers painted in burgundy. I imagined her slowly coming up the stairs, barely turning her head to see her own stretched out shadow. I imagined her observing the sea through the windowpane, absorbed and solitary like a flagpole. I imagined her leaning on her elbows on the right space of my bed. I imagined her words, her silences, the way she pursed her lips, her smiles, her laughter. When I realized again she found herself in front of me, whole and moist, shivering cold, I knew everything about her. I suppose this was the third reason I opened the door of the house, and without leaving the doorknob, I invited her to come in.
– I am Amparo Dávila– she mentioned it with her gaze placed, just as I had imagined her minutes before, over the windowpane. She approached it without adding anything else. She put her right arm between her forehead and the glass, and when she was finally able to discern the contour of the ocean, she sighed noisily. She seemed relieved from something heavy and menacing. She gave the impression she had found what she searched for.
By Cristina Rivera Garza
translated, from the Spanish, by Julio Enríquez
Julio Enríquez Órnelas is a Ph.D. graduate student in the Hispanic Studies program at the University of California, Riverside. Cristina Rivera Garza (1964-) is a prominent and influential Mexican writer. She is the only author who has won the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize twice. She also writes “La mano oblicua” (“The Oblique Hand”), a column for the cultural section of a weekly Mexican newspaper.