Translated from the Spanish by Roque Raquel Salas Rivera

I did not come to solitude

she packed my suitcase and said go.
She put an egg in my suitcase
she put leavening in my suitcase
she put salt in my suitcase
flour, sugar, and warm water.

I came to my mother’s house to sleep for days.
I closed all the doors.
I took off my clothes, my watches.
I left the suitcase on the floor unopened.

Now hungry,
with my eyes I rummage through the things I brought.
They have taken everything.

All that’s left is the egg, there, intact
beside the bed
and, when facing the mirror,
I feel strangely committed to its care.





No vine a la soledad

ella empacó mi maleta y dijo vete.
Puso un huevo en mi maleta
puso levadura en mi maleta
puso sal en mi maleta
harina, azúcar y agua tibia.

Vine a casa de mi madre a dormir días.
Cerré todas las puertas.
Me quité la ropa y los relojes.
Dejé la maleta sobre el suelo sin abrirla.

Ahora hambriento
rebusco con los ojos lo que traje.
Se han llevado todo.

Queda sólo el huevo, ahí, intacto
a un lado de la cama
y siento ante el espejo
el compromiso raro de cuidarlo.


© Xavier Valcárcel. Translation © 2022 Raquel Salas Rivera. All rights reserved.

About this Poem

“‘Doppelgänger’ is a poem belonging to Xavier Valcárcel’s El deber del pan (Libro de Pólvora, 2013; 2nd ed. La Impresora, 2019). The seriality and brevity of the collection are coupled with Valcárcel’s poetics of the elemental. The poet breaks down the base materials for making bread, adding his own grief, his mother’s, and the final ingredient: fire. In translating this poem, I took care not to add words that would detract from the concentrated power that characterizes Valcárcel’s work. No word is out of place and the exact pacing leads, as if following a destiny, to the final verses.”
—Roque Raquel Salas Rivera