Gihon River Collective

Writing sample by Liliana Valenzuela

To Sophie

I want to show you the world,
How to move about in it
With confidence,
Armed with maps and common sense,
Like a woman about town,
Be it Hong Kong or New York,
Ubud or Mexico City.

My own mother was incapable
Of functioning in the world without
My father, our official face to the world, the one who
Asked for directions, made phone calls,
Found hotel rooms, negotiated with strangers,
Was at the wheel and at the
Head of the table, disciplined us and set
Limits, spoke to policemen after a crash. Tú, tú diles.
Tú, tú ve.

I wanted to be a sophisticated traveler
Like him, go into a restaurant alone and feel
Comfortable, go up and down the streets of a
Strange city, armed with maps and common sense,
Asking questions of strangers,
Eating at their tables,
Drinking their wine.

So far, so good. I get up
Early to study our route, trace
It on the map, compare bus to
Subway routes, map our destination
For the day, but be ready to improvise.

Hija, dame la mano, I want to show you
The world.

"Just back from Liliana Valenzuela's excellent reading fro the ACC Literary Coffeehouse series at Austin Java. I've heard most of what she read before and enjoyed it to death nonetheless. Or should I say *because.* Read her poems when you can, but drop everything to hear he do a live reading."

--Marian Schwartz, Russian translator and former president of the American Literary Translators Association.

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