A Poem by the Chilean Writer Roberto Bolaño
I never thought of Roberto Bolaño as a poet before, but his collection entitled The Romantic Dogs set me straight on that score.
She worked in la Guerrero, a few streets down from Julian’s, and she was 17 and had lost a son. The memory made her cry in that Hotel Trébol room, spacious and dark, with bath and bidet, the perfect place to live out a few years. The perfect place to write a book of apocryphal memories or a collection of horror poems. Lupe was thin and had legs long and spotted like a leopard. The first time I didn’t even get an erection: and I didn’t want to have an erection. Lupe spoke of her life and of what, for her, was happiness. When a week had passed, we saw each other again. I found her on a corner alongside other little teenage whores, propped against the fender of an old Cadillac. I think we were glad to see each other. From then on Lupe began telling me things about her life, sometimes crying, sometimes fucking, almost always naked in bed, staring at the ceiling, hand in hand. Her son was born sick and Lupe promised la Virgen that she’d leave her trade if her baby were cured. She kept her promise a month or two, then had to go back. Soon after, her son died, and Lupe said the fault was her own for not keeping up her bargain with la Virgen. La Virgen carried off the little angel, payment for a broken promise, I didn’t know what to say. I liked children, sure, but I still had many years before I’d know what it was to have a son. And so I stayed quiet and thought about the eerie feel Emerging from the silence of that hotel. Either the walls were very thick or were the sole occupants or the others didn’t open their mouths, not even to moan. It was so easy to ride Lupe and feel like a man and feel wretched. It was easy to get her in your rhythm and it was easy to listen as she prattled on about the latest horror films she’d seen at Bucareli Theater. Her leopard legs would wrap around my waist and she’d sink her head into my chest, searching for my nipples or my heartbeat. This is the part of you I want to suck, she said to me one night. What, Lupe? Your heart.
Roberto Bolaño, The Romantic Dogs: 1980-1998 (New York: New Directions, 2006).