Transverse Maladies by Jacqueline Goldberg – translated by William Blair, with Consuelo Méndez

I begin to suffer from defunct diseases.

I live among diagnostics
that verticalize an interior.

Everything seems irrelevant,
but I suffer.

Certain dark lesions
suggest Anthracnose.

Other spots,
surrounded by yellow concentric aureoles,
suppose the presence of Alternariosis.

Verticilium could be the answer
to that withering that usually begins
during hot hours and petulant perspiration.
Lifeblood conducting vessels have already rotted.

A whitish dust is covering me,
they say it is Oidium.
[I hear «hate»] [I hear «ear»]

A respiratory malady also afflicts me.
There is something in my stomata and lenticels.
I don’t expect definitions.
I’m very sad to know that I carry dead bark,
that pests will devastate me,
my roots collapse,
the disease will spread onto the ground.

What ails me seems impossible to eradicate.
The measures have to be drastic:
mutilations, rotation,
other air,

I long to disintegrate,

The ethics of mutations is hard.
The illusion of a mainstay is inconclusive.

We take care of ourselves,
we listen to a Requiem before seedtime,
we admit one last delicacy.

The decline must be perfect,
without compasses, contact lenses, or rosaries.
Without photosynthesis.
Gentle, full-bodied, smooth.



Jacqueline Goldberg (1966) is a Venezuelan poet, fiction writer, essayist, and author of children’s books. She is the author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction, eleven children’s books, and 21 volumes of poetry. Her poetry has been translated and published in anthologies in fifteen countries. She is a former resident of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Her novel Las horas claras received the 2012 Fundación para la Cultura Urbana, was the Venezuelan Booksellers’ Book of the Year, and was a finalist for the 2013 Critic’s Award for the Novel. She lives in Caracas, Venezuela where she continues to write and publish.

William Blair is an editor, publisher, and translator; he is a graduate of the MFA in Literary Translation program at the University of Iowa. He has translated María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira’s work extensively. Co-translated and published works include two books of poetry by Vaz Ferreira, Lichen by the Uruguayan poet Luis Bravo, and Great Vilas by Manuel Vilas. He has also published numerous poems in translation, in Latin American Literature Today, Exchanges 30th Anniversary Issue, The Presence: A Catholic Poetry Journal, and Corresponding Voices, among others. Blair founded The Song Bridge Project to promote Spanish language literature in translation.

Consuelo Méndez retired as a professor from the University of the Arts, UNEARTES, where she specialized in experimental drawing, body art, and performance. In Venezuela, she has won awards for her artwork in the Michelena National Show (1983), the Municipal Art Prize of Caracas (1984), and the Graphic Biennale of Maracaibo (1990). Her work has appeared in numerous international exhibitions. She continues to research the plastic and visual arts: painting, drawing, photography, and graphic arts, with a special interest in bookmaking. She is a close admirer and supporter of Goldberg’s literary works.