Metabolic Reactions

Maricela  Guerrero
Translated from the Spanish by Robin Myers

It’s about communication: keennesses of ingeniousness and darkness and volatility and light: transformation producing sugars without aftertastes or contaminants.

A contaminant is a substance that exceeds threshold levels: which is to say, it was there, although everything has a limit and if outstripped, undesired events transpire, excesses in sugar, in carbon dioxide, in acids, in sulphur: sulphates excess water in the lungs we don’t call it contamination, but it seems to be: floods dikes dams drowning towns: houses in the name of construction companies, subtractive mining companies, excesses; in any case it’s about clarification after the fact of putting things back in place and not just running for the hills every time.

[Let’s ride on a she-wolf’s back up the mountainside.]

Now I’m moving behind someone or something who’s fleeing on the rapids that have surged in this city of uneven terrain: and it’s not flowing it’s just chasing and it’s not about that anymore which is to say anguish. I’m left breathless: I’m just chasing a shape a presence that hurts me: a cell that’s being left lifeless that’s halting its biomolecular exchange and it hurts a lot.

Sulphates sulfides: how to reduce the impact of the excess poisons, in the words the things we said, what we ended up doing: an excess of spite and ill will, of frenzied imagination: we’re more into the reality, the perception of what’s there: this evening I see you this way in your cellular beauty and decipher the words’ excesses, collect them, arrange them: beauty aboil: a junkyard: cars organized by color, by shape, by date, and by catastrophic events, occupying the place that corresponds to them: and I know that each and every one is a chance to embrace you, to calm, to clean the biosphere: I perceive your breath, remember your words, the shifting steps of your first mad dashes: resisting and restraining in underlying aquifers: extracting the contaminants the excesses and arranging them: may the beauty of their excess gleam and be transformed into something else close by or as far away as the date palms of Elche or the vacant lot next door: I think of you and the jasmine-harvesters I think of how you draw how you hold the pen or pencil how you illuminate an edge where you sketch shapes of leaves and fruit trees.

Then I perceive all the metabolic reactions of the billions of cells inside the she-wolf who nestles us onto her back and carries us up the mountainside. We breathe together and anguish is an animal that curls up next to us and sleeps.


Reacciones metabólicas

Se trata de un tema de comunicación: agudezas de ingenio y oscuridad y luz e intranquilidad: transformación producir azúcares sin resabios sin contaminantes.

Un contaminante es una sustancia que excede sus niveles: es decir que estaba ahí, aunque todo tiene un límite y si se sobrepasa, acontecen eventos no deseados: excesos de azúcar, de dióxido de carbono, de ácidos, de azufre: sulfatos exceso de agua en los pulmones no lo llamamos contaminación, pero parece: inundaciones diques presas que ahogan pueblos: casas en nombre de compañías constructoras, mineras sustractivas, excesos; en todo caso se trata después de aclarar de volver a acomodar y no siempre salir huyendo.

[Vamos en el lomo de una loba bosque arriba.]

Ahora voy detrás de algo o alguien que huye por los rápidos que se han formado en esta ciudad de terreno accidentado: y no es fluir es sólo ir persiguiendo y ya no se trata de eso que es angustia. Me quedo sin aire: sólo persigo una forma una presencia que me duele: una célula que se está quedando sin vida que detiene su intercambio biomolecular y duele mucho.

Sulfatos sulfuros: cómo reducir el impacto de los excesos de los venenos, en las palabras las cosas que dijimos, lo que terminamos haciendo: exceso de encono y mala voluntad, imaginación desaforada: nos vale más la realidad, la percepción de lo que hay: esta tarde te veo así en tu belleza celular y descifro los excesos de las palabras, los colecciono, los acomodo: hermosura en ebullición: un deshuesadero de autos: ordenados por colores, por formas, por fechas y por eventos catastróficos ocupan el lugar que les corresponde: y sé que cada uno de ellos es una posibilidad de abrazarte, de serenar, de limpiar la biósfera: percibo tu respiración, recuerdo tus palabras, los pasos vacilantes de tus primeras correteadas: resistir y refrenar en mantos acuíferos: extraer los contaminantes los excesos y ordenarlos: que la belleza de su exceso fulgure y se transforme en otra cosa aquí cerca o tan lejos como el palmar de dátiles de Elche o el baldío de al lado: pienso en ti y en las cosechadoras de jazmín pienso en la forma en que dibujas en que llevas el lápiz o la pluma en que iluminas una orilla en que trazas formas de hojas y árboles frutales.

Percibo entonces todas las reacciones metabólicas de los billones de células de la loba que nos echa a su lomo y nos lleva bosque arriba. Respiramos juntos y la angustia es un animal que se echa a nuestro lado y duerme.

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Andrea Martinez

Maricela Guerrero is the author of nine poetry collections. El sueño de toda célula won Mexico’s Clemencia Isaura Prize in 2018 and was just published by Cardboard House Press as The Dream of Every Cell in Robin Myers’ English translation. Cardboard House Press also published her book Kilimanjaro, translated by Stalina Villareal, in 2018. Guerrero has been a member of Mexico’s prestigious National System of Artists. Her work has also been translated into German, Swedish, and French. 

Robin Myers
Clairette Atri

Robin Myers is a Mexico City-based poet and Spanish-to-English translator. Book-length translations include Another Life by Daniel Lipara (2021), The Science of Departures by Adalber Salas Hernández (2021), Cars on Fire by Mónica Ramón Ríos (2020), The Restless Dead by Cristina Rivera Garza (2020), and Animals at the End of the World by Gloria Susana Esquivel (2020). Other translations have appeared in Granta, The BafflerKenyon ReviewThe Common, Harvard ReviewTwo LinesWaxwingAsymptote, Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. She was among the winners of the 2019 Poems in Translation Contest (Words Without Borders / Academy of American Poets). As a poet, Robin’s work has been selected for the 2022 Best American Poetry anthology and appears in journals such as the Yale ReviewDenver QuarterlyPoetry NorthwestAnnulet Poetry Journal, and Massachusetts Review, among others. Her collections have been published as bilingual English-Spanish editions in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Spain. She is an alumna of the Vermont Studio Center, the Banff Literary Translation Centre, the Community of Writers, and Under the Volcano. She is represented by the Willenfield Literary Agency.

cover of the dream of every cell

Phoenix , Arizona

"'Encouragement is a round warm form of resistance,' writes Maricela Guerrero, as if describing her own project. Building furrows of words and speaking in tree, Guerrero creates a poetry to shelter in. In her capable hands and tongue we are carried in rivers of nourishment. It’s exactly what the world needs, and I am flooded with gratitude. For joy, for grace, for tenderness, for righteous grief and its acknowledgment, for inspiration and sustenance, you must read this book."
—Eleni Sikelianos

"Maricela Guerrero leads us right back into the classrooms where many of us first encountered the scientific language that opened us to (and distanced us from) the plant kingdom. And she leads us out again, forcing us to confront the territories of devastation before she introduces us, suddenly small, into the cells, the sap in the trees, the shapes of the leaves. Everything pulses and everything shines there: language, connections among the elements, protest."
—Cristina Rivera Garza

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