“For me poetry and feminism share something profound. Poetry is a privileged space and time for thought (and for feeling): language looks at itself slowly, it surprises itself, maybe it even makes up with itself. Language, when it is poetic, narrows and then expands our perception of the world. The feminist gaze also comes to rest, and barely passes, on and at the languages that make us historic and political subjects; languages that are revealed also as ideology. Just as poetry becomes hyperconsciousness, an “alert” sensibility open to questioning everything that seemed unquestionable. These poems from the work La edad de merecer (The Eligible Age, translated by Kelsi Vanada (2018); the title reproduces and reinterprets tragicomically the well-known sexist saying), also have as their theme the awakening of self-awareness, the “falling of the veil from the eyes” about what it means to be a woman, what stereotypes run through and mould our personalities, what are the costs, what are the ambivalences, the dangers”.


PAIN #8
 at 8 years old came the danger 
of being able to reproduce myself 
the countdown from 400 eggs 
begins    symbol 
of time 
and the gum resin 
filtered 
through the tiny mouth of the sand clock 
 
my mother’s mother so emphatic so golden 
gave me a crucifixthe son of God 
so slim so devoted     sprouted from the braid 
be careful with men starting 
now she said 
be careful with love starting 
now she said 
now you are a real woman 
and the endometrium  
mimicked an old fish in its  
scaling off 
 
the horror of being able to bear a child balled up 
in my intestines 
for having already kissed 3 or 4 
primates     began to expand 
like an imaginary epidemic    i opened  
my hypochondria    i took on 
the bad habit of writing poems to all the boys 
and girls 
with soft stretch marks 
and soft eyes 
who used to grope my heart at recess 
 
what does uterus mean exactly and what does it mean exactly to 
start a family 
 
enid blyton implanted her summer canon in my eardrum 
and i wanted to be like george or georgina 
 
at the clapping of my hands fell drops 
of dolphin blood 
though i pretended to be fully indifferent before so much 
rain 
 
at 8 years old at 60 inches of joyful 
bone and joyful muscle 
came the danger of being able to reproduce myself 
and being able to multiply myself 
without literature 
and a blue sun 
stained the geraniums with estrogen 
and progesteroneand a blue sun 
stained my timid armpits 
with new-grown 
fuzz


THE ROUTE / EROS-GRAPHY
 first, i scraped the atmosphere 
with sticks, tamed 
my loud laugh 
 
highest aspiration when i was a baby 
 
later, the fall: 
 
fear of surveys 
scratches on my elbows 
atrophy in my orange muscles 
 
incurable men 
had nasally voices 
 
they criticized love 
as unhygienic  
and silly 
 
impeccable group cynics their glasses 
cardiac hops sweetener in bellies 
 
and i 
meanwhile 
 
insipid weevils 
clavicles and bread crumbs on insect bites 
a victorian zeal for opaque walls 
 
“helpless romanticism” was a violent insult 
for the inhabitants of the rigid delta of my arms 
 
and i  
meanwhile 
 
plucked out all my fluff 
kissed everyone with acrophobic mimicry 
loved viscous hands, was sick 
with snow 
 
i searched for perfectly full heat 
i searched for red etymons of pains-in-roots 
 
but if they satisfied me 
if some incurable man satisfied me 
if some incurable man accidently satisfied me 
 
i fled to spawn 
upstream 
alone 


PAIN #18
 Believing you’re pregnant 
 
Wanting sex (wanting them to want sex 
with you) but spending Friday alone 
 
Putting yourself in the skin of Celan’s sister 
who never appeared 
 
Watching an old person cry 
He’s just seen a report on public television  
about old people being abandoned; his sad eyelid 
occasionally 
twitches 
 
Going to the gynecologist and saying 
I think I’m pregnant 
 
Fainting from nerves and pain; the doctor hypnotizes you 
with his fierce insult: “I don’t know why this 
dilator hurts you so much, dear: it’s 
for virgins” 
 
Telling your mother 
I went to the gynecologist 
because I thought I was pregnant 
 
Ah, you’re already having sexual intercourse? 
And without precautions, I’m disappointed 
 
Seeing that your mother is disappointed, your  
mother is 
disappointed 
 
Putting yourself in the skin of Celan 
who never found his imaginary 
sister 
 
Putting yourself in the skin of Gisèle because 
Celan tried to strangle her because 
he never found his imaginary 
sister 
 
Wanting him to like you but he says 
if you want let’s go to my room or your room 
 
You barely spent 10 minutes 
kissing you don’t trust 
him 
 
Wanting sex but not trusting  
 
Ah, you wanted something authentic? 
And without precautions, I’m disappointed 
 
You told me your heart was leashed 
to your ankle 
 
Sorry I let it loose for a second I fell asleep  
and it escaped 
 
It’s naughty 
Very bad very bad tell the boy you’re sorry 
 
Sorry  
 
boy



PIANIST’S FINGERS + LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN’S FACE WHEN I TOLD HIM I WANTED TO WRITE A POEM WITH MORE OR LESS RHYME + WHY I GAVE UP MUSIC AND WHY I MENTIONED THE BREEZE AT LEAST ONCE + OPTIMISTIC GREETING TO SUCCESSIVE LOVERS AND TO THE EVER-PLURAL LYRIC YOU + CORDIAL GREETING TO MY FIRST PIANO TEACHER (1998 – 2000)

allegro con brio, adagio molto (attacca), allegretto moderato
(A)
 i gave up the piano 
and my virginity 
for the same philological reasons 
 

“fail more” “fail better” all that 
not-exactly-this-poem 
hunchbacked frustrated mutinous very 
naturally 
 
 
that’s why 
i had to give up my piano studies 
and my virginity 
not-exactly-the-same-day, 
       beneath that same 
rain, 
beneath that same 
mud, 
or haze, or breeze, or rain 
so acoustic so 
hazy very 
naturally 
 
 
that’s why 
i had to give up the piano and my virginity 
and the rain and the rain falling 
      on fallen rain 
not-exactly-the-same-day 
not-exactly-yesterday: 
 
the word 
fails more and better, 
 
the word 
word 
fails more and better[1]1 — after orgasm ears ring head falls back coup de grace it turns out slapping the pubis is tender this way the scream and the scandal get muddy music exacerbates what was there already love’s cry lingers incomplete like a half-articulated sneeze love is a half-sneeze cut off by another sneeze creaking a reflex scandalously i rest my skull on your sweet skull a phonograph before the sonata in C major accentuates and duplicates the cravings and increases wellbeing and exists and this psychic chirping doesn’t end the song doesn’t add color just stresses the prodigious hue of your knuckles and it is my scruples not my childhood who spits the insult at me when you’re gone you don’t understand the soul of a thirty-second note you’re cornered by the eighth notes when i get home i read a note from my first piano teacher (1998-2000) in the musical staff you read badly quit music it doesn’t come to you very naturally you read badly you’re more inclined to poetry



(B)
paralyzed by the waltz and the cunnilingus
and understanding 
that they weren’t enough aren’t enough couldn’t be enough 
will never be enough 
not my song not my body 
 
for all that 
 
(anatticinparisthepleuralcavityofthegirlsinthehoney 
moonflowers 
playingthefieldtheparisnightthereverberation 
ofthehillsideofthecheek 
ofthemountainchainthebildungsroman), 
 
i began to babble. 
 
i babbled a lot, of course. 
and later on, 
i began to write and i wrote a poem very 
naturally 
with more or less rhyme and 
with more or less desperation and 
with more or less semi-cliché sunrises and semi-professional  
orchestras and 
it rained a lot 
which is to say 
it deluged and i know 
 
i should mention the breeze at least once[2]2 — When i grow up successive lovers point out the necromantic length of my middle finger you have pianist’s fingers she says to pass the course you’ll have to stroke all of maestro Ludwig van Beethoven’s bones but you’ll have to be superb you’ll have to faint with your eyes open she says you’ll have to quit trying to translate the rain and haze and mud and breeze in befuddling poems about paris and i try hard i try fierce and industrious but fail and fail better and much better the swinging of the sacrifice secretes a very moving fresh red so i am an arid place an arid compass i play für elise very well on a 5-scale electric organ where i lose my place my parents bought it for me to make me happy that’s where i find myself in short years later you arrive burn everything and take away the records detaching the needle of the example in sum i prefer braille and cherries years later you arrive you point out with your middle finger the necromantic length of my fluorescent middle finger my parents bought me a notebook covered in arabesque designs and owls to make me happy so i’d delve into the artifice of some befuddling poems about certain semi-cliché sunrises and about some guy Waldstein in sum i wrote a poem with more or less rhyme and the contours of the record player bordered on my body bordered very naturally border on your body very naturally you say you have pianist’s fingers but don’t touch anything lest you break it you say we’ll go to the beach to clear away embers of fire and we’ll reread your lactation library i really like your illustrious fertile blackberry bush the waves are onomatopoeic domes from the end of the world even though you mock everything good-naturedly you say even though you denounce all those extra-modernists even though you have pianist’s fingers i love you kiss me in the heart of this mnemonic cave kiss me from your childhood and from your old age and from your collection of rain and haze and mud and the breeze you say kiss me shut up already please and don’t write about this lest you break it.

(C)
it’s very understandable, 
gentlemen and gentlemen of the Royal Academy  
of the Spanish Language, friends 
and enemies of Ludwig van 
Beethoven, whom you blame for 
everything 
because you understand 
nothing, whom you blame for 
everything, because everything is 
nothing 
 
(blaming Beethoven is 
the easiest thing in  
the world: 
the world and the nothing and the sex are 
disappointing) 
 
it’s very understandable, no doubt, your complaint: 
 
i gave up the piano 
and my virginity 
for the same philological motives 
 
call it rebellion call it lucid call it 
resignation: 
 
 
neither my song without words 
nor my body without the words of the other 
was worth it 
would not be worth it   will not be worth it         ever 
i gave upi understood  
i give up, 
 
therefore i write[3]3 — Many years later you say fibers are figures your hands hum waterfalls your hands articulate pantomimes xylophagous eroticism you have pianist’s hands i wrote this thinking of you but now i’m thinking of someone else this also is music gnawing wood this also is music running away from paris this also goes back to the beginning to the damage of not being a musician to the damage of being words i give up therefore i write this also is a caress it’s a slap the world and the nothing and sex aren’t disappointing i greet the ever-plural lyric you optimistically and my first piano teacher cordially (1998-2000) quit music it doesn’t come to you very naturally you read badly i’m sorry for you you’re more inclined to poetry
  • NOTICE SECTION

    1 —

    after orgasm ears ring head falls back coup de grace it turns out slapping the pubis is tender this way the scream and the scandal get muddy music exacerbates what was there already love’s cry lingers incomplete like a half-articulated sneeze love is a half-sneeze cut off by another sneeze creaking a reflex scandalously i rest my skull on your sweet skull a phonograph before the sonata in C major accentuates and duplicates the cravings and increases wellbeing and exists and this psychic chirping doesn’t end the song doesn’t add color just stresses the prodigious hue of your knuckles and it is my scruples not my childhood who spits the insult at me when you’re gone you don’t understand the soul of a thirty-second note you’re cornered by the eighth notes when i get home i read a note from my first piano teacher (1998-2000) in the musical staff you read badly quit music it doesn’t come to you very naturally you read badly you’re more inclined to poetry

    2 —

    When i grow up successive lovers point out the necromantic length of my middle finger you have pianist’s fingers she says to pass the course you’ll have to stroke all of maestro Ludwig van Beethoven’s bones but you’ll have to be superb you’ll have to faint with your eyes open she says you’ll have to quit trying to translate the rain and haze and mud and breeze in befuddling poems about paris and i try hard i try fierce and industrious but fail and fail better and much better the swinging of the sacrifice secretes a very moving fresh red so i am an arid place an arid compass i play für elise very well on a 5-scale electric organ where i lose my place my parents bought it for me to make me happy that’s where i find myself in short years later you arrive burn everything and take away the records detaching the needle of the example in sum i prefer braille and cherries years later you arrive you point out with your middle finger the necromantic length of my fluorescent middle finger my parents bought me a notebook covered in arabesque designs and owls to make me happy so i’d delve into the artifice of some befuddling poems about certain semi-cliché sunrises and about some guy Waldstein in sum i wrote a poem with more or less rhyme and the contours of the record player bordered on my body bordered very naturally border on your body very naturally you say you have pianist’s fingers but don’t touch anything lest you break it you say we’ll go to the beach to clear away embers of fire and we’ll reread your lactation library i really like your illustrious fertile blackberry bush the waves are onomatopoeic domes from the end of the world even though you mock everything good-naturedly you say even though you denounce all those extra-modernists even though you have pianist’s fingers i love you kiss me in the heart of this mnemonic cave kiss me from your childhood and from your old age and from your collection of rain and haze and mud and the breeze you say kiss me shut up already please and don’t write about this lest you break it.

    3 —

    Many years later you say fibers are figures your hands hum waterfalls your hands articulate pantomimes xylophagous eroticism you have pianist’s hands i wrote this thinking of you but now i’m thinking of someone else this also is music gnawing wood this also is music running away from paris this also goes back to the beginning to the damage of not being a musician to the damage of being words i give up therefore i write this also is a caress it’s a slap the world and the nothing and sex aren’t disappointing i greet the ever-plural lyric you optimistically and my first piano teacher cordially (1998-2000) quit music it doesn’t come to you very naturally you read badly i’m sorry for you you’re more inclined to poetry

Berta_Garcia

Berta García Faet

Berta García Faet (Valencia, 1988) is the author of The Fluorescent Psalms (Los salmos fosforitos, La Bella Varsovia, 2017), winner of the 2018 'Miguel Hernández' National Young Person's Poetry Award; The Eligible Age (La edad de merecer, La Bella Varsovia, 2015), translated to English by Kelsi Vanada and published by Songbridge Press in 2018; and four more poetry collections compiled in Traditional Heart: Poetry 2008-2011 (Corazón Tradicionalista: Poesía 2008-2011, La Bella Varsovia, 2017).