Laura A. Vena

x/she: stardraped (excerpt)

Personal aesthetic statement
x/she: stardraped inhabits the gaps between. It is a translation conundrum, a simultaneous convergence / collision of voices, cultures, and identities, in a time-collapsed realm. The ancient / archaic / obsolete intersect with the postmodern, as two characters struggle against the ensnaring of their story/ies / selves. Words scatter across the page, running, racing, claiming power, creating openings where escape is possible. Punctuation halts or prolongs breathing / urgency, and language depends upon multilingualism, suggestion: meaning is urgent / shifty. [A goddess escapes her creation myth / punishment, a woman maps her city / self]

I am becoming star draped

I am becoming star draped. My circumference rotates around victim blood that circles



Xquic found the head of a friend hanging from the calabash tree.

She climbed up to set it loose, scrambling onto a thick torso of a limb.

Bough between legs, and hands ruined with splinters, she rocked

the head back and forth until she set it free.

It fell to the ground, rolled around the trunk and stopped just below her,

eyes facing up.


The city sacrifices me, I make pity a sacrifice, it echoes down alleys, against dumpsters

and crumpled bodies of trash/flesh. They breathe or they snore or they take a last breath

of this plague. The city is too fast for me, so I move faster through it to fool it. Fool, it:

me. Plunge fists into unseeing. Here the air and water are the same: to touch immersing,

questions swallowed—any possible understanding surrounded by water and as wet as

dust. A mother would know the blur como hijo, hija.


"I'm lonely."

"este merengue me recuerda amores perdidas, filosofía de troncar y desfiles solitarios."

"Solo pienso en ti."

"calavera agujereada por dedo/angustia."


"Rompé de este cielo-ojo, despide de primerúltima vez."

"Out of desire."

". se fue la sonora de respiración-olor.dolor. Gone"


He hands me his hands, I map out the cracks, the city in the lines, emanating from the

palm outward, like downtown to its satellites. They're warm, moist, they've been digging

in sand/something he lost. They direct me through ghosts that watch the waters, just

residual yearning, leaning over the pier, they drop and drop and drop, death in a second,

but first weightless. We understand nothing of this pull to the edge, but we head towards

it anyway. We gallop with abandon. We laugh with tears and tear at the air. We whisper

to ourselves we seek we shape oxygen balloons with our breath, rushed and panting we

head toward ... forward


Six laughs once happy now force-fed. The gods see me [us] as flowers.


Xquic looks happy—just a gesture of recognition.bemusement.

When the friend's head has been transferred to a small embroidered

piece of cloth, she carries it over

her shoulder. It bobs against her shoulder blade as she steps, like a solemn lashing. The

night is
There's blood to fill in the gaps.


Lie still, the city says, close your eyes. The skin, daydreaming unbelieving that she could

ever take ever this part of me that sinks in deep to the whole of you how could it possibly

be that she was harboring a bandit love, making its way into eyes. Don't think anything

guides you through, destiny-feathered, slope-nosed. She got in the car.


Xquic [sideways] feels in her pockets for a spare bit of string.

Her arm has tired and she wants to make a handle for the cloth. She knows

that if she keeps traveling down this path, her destination will become more and more

destined. She passes people who see the blood flowing from her and think

MARTYR, lowering their eyes, espíritu santo,

they cross themselves, losing themselves in a colonized gesture,

not too pious to lift their eyes when she is past. STIGMATA aching,

she takes each new step well knowing that her mercy / burden will mean exile.


She counts each car as it passes, one arm hanging out the window, collecting up whispers

and pollen like a broken bird until she runs out of numbers. She thinks she feels them

momentarily: a flash of screaming, of sand dunes across the forever horizon, of chocolate

cake dreams and a favorite TV show, of change rattling in a pocket, of a misplaced

receipt, of the accident almost happening because of a mosca, of an argument relived and

relived... Can they feel her? She closes her eyes. What are they moving through, and

then, to what? What horror behind doors or in plain view neighbor to vistas that make

movies famous. She turns her face towards the gunshots.


Sometimes I am driving half blind from yearning and ...


Xquic has made her choice.


Tomorrow I will walk out my door and reach the ocean. She will pick up bits of shell

from the carpet without him noticing. He never notices her there, he travels alone. Yes,

this he is not handing her hands or laughing/out cries. This one has his head in

devices/vices that perpetuate awkwardness. So she steps away with her fists full and

round. She kisses each fist, leaving red lipmarks. They look puffy and bruised. She hasn't

slept through a night in a long time.


If it would matter, she'd open the car door and fall out. But she just presses her face to

the glass and feels she's falling.


As she walks to her exile, her path is suddenly impeded by a congregation of

of lizards. There are thousands. Tears are streaming

from the eyes of the head across her shoulder and blood runs from Xquic's body. The

tears form a pool at the juncture, a million lizards crawl to the rivulets.

Xquic could no longer pass. She deviates from her path.


This awakeness scares her. The city is nightless, it refuses censure, it is sodium vapor

power urban branchless forest. She knows she can fall through the center of herself/the

city, but the cold air against her numbed face reminds her, a stolen moment. Her head is

under the warm blanket at home if only it came back to her. She extends her hand, she

can feel every vessel reach back. She feels the pieces torn apart, but she faults herself.

Arterial streets, shoe-littered, eternal waiting for night, someone turn off the lights so we

can sleep. The sky is too silver-golden, palm trees bend towards one lamppost or another,

insomniac birds are over-caffeinated, they peck at crumbs and coffee puddles in

Starbucks patios, they fly to Sunset Blvd and wait, they go to the ocean and look to the

horizon, they wonder when the worms come out, which light is the authentic one? They

[we] wonder why we're disoriented/dreaming. Night only barely kisses the skyline. She

smears memory/consolation into her hair.


Xquic remembers the elder that lives near the old river. She heads towards her,

hoping for amnesty. But the old woman blanches

when she sees the head, the blood, the tears,

the no surrender of Xquic's gait.

She sends her to fail(ure),

with an empty knapsack, to collect a futile harvest from a barren land. Xquic escapes to

the new river channel of tears, placing the head in the new bag, she makes her way down

the corridor.


She is hungry. She angers easily, so angry she could     strangle.


Xquic thinks, "I am no longer daughter"

and walks away.


"you're skulking"

"come sail your ships round me"

"when will you ever learn"

"my biggest fear, if I let you go"

"la madre te huérfano(a)"

"would you still love me if i was incomplete?"

"your face has grown sad"

"for/from you I was born"

"my insides are falling out"


new world / [glitch] old / the flesh made word

we pressed our different faces to the glass and lost the image of

                                    one      in         the       other


Xquic tries to see (in) pigments

but the earth has become opaque she feels

her skin

luminous, ghostly: her creases / identity smoothed out

as if stretched.she wanders

—a moment in anonymity stretches

who will know my name?

Laura A. Vena is a writer, translator, and photographer and the Production Editor at Black Clock. Laura is concerned with both the aesthetic and ethical considerations of translation: with what it means to approach an other, what it means to occupy a space in between, what it means to give an accurate representation and what it means to listen.