huecuvu mapu (land of the devil)
(translation by Noah Mazer)

the whale washed up on the beach in monte hermoso, dead
and we jumped in the car thinking
it’d be the adventure of our lives, you and me,
the first girls in the world to ride a sea
beast. but when we imagine death
we forget it smells terrible
and from the entrance on the highway we caught
that sour sick-sweet smell that we’d never smelled before but
couldn’t be confused for anything else
in the new province there’s an article from 1859
where the residents of fort argentina ask that something
be done
about the pile of indian corpses
stacked up in the middle of plaza rivadavia,
because the smell is making it impossible to sleep
that colonel estomba or whoever please order
a funeral pyre built for
chief calfucurá, his captains guayaquil and antenef
and their three thousand lances. the new rome would rise from
the ashes of the bodies burned smack
in the middle of the plaza and we’d press
our ears to the pavement to feel
the possible vibration of ghostly horses,
we’d grow up knowing we were growing up
on land that was entirely cursed, the smell
of dead things would chase us down to the beach
no one’s going to burn the whale today
tomorrow either: someone who’s not us climbs
onto the monument from above and hacks
its body into pieces, portions
that’ll be buried in the sand
as the dunes switch places
the dry earth will swallow the dead
flesh of a giant animal, and i don’t know if you knew this
but the smell is worse up close: whales ejaculate
when they die.
did you know what that meant then, to ejaculate?
i didn’t either and
looked right
into the whale’s dead eye, must be strange
i thought, to die underwater:
must be strange to be a whale and have it be the ocean
who’s in charge of taking you where you need to go,
strange to leave your body behind in the middle of the atlantic
and have your final destination be a lonely
beach in the south of argentina
where, for some reason,
the sun always rises
and sets over the sea.

Valeria Mussio (b. 1996) is a poet and editor from Bahía Blanca, Argentina. She is the author of ¡Hasta pronto, querida!, Nuestros refugios a medio armar, and Un perro no sabe lo que puede destruir.

Noah Mazer (b. 1997) is a translator and poet based in Mexico City.