Duele, Duelo

Camila Fuentes Diaz.

The mouth that speaks your name
Articulating next to it the word ‘death’
Consciously avoiding euphemisms trying
To make the mind understand your absence is real.

Does a brain know pain?
Pain that feels as cold as winter
And burns like dry ice on the skin?
Pain that reminds the body of its spring
That allows the heart to soften and beat again?

The stomach churns
But sheds no tears,
It churns as the mind wonders
Where was yours as you came and went
To and from the blazing sun?

The body stops to exist, but, do you?
The mind captures you. Makes you real.
The mouth pronounces your end,
Hoping for the eyes
To show tears of acceptance.

Is this it? Is death this dry emptiness?
Like a dry piece of wood
That cannot give leaves anymore?
When the body
Feels alienated from all emotion?

I carry your memory
Like a coat that keeps me warm
From the misery of your absence.

The mind decides to take possession of who I am;
Like a locket around my neck
That reminds me how much of you
I carry within me.

I once wrote you are a part of everything.
Mark my words: you are and will be
As you fill my every thought
Of your words and laughter.

If I can´t talk to you, does that mean
Your phone is down? Can I just
Pretend these falling leaves are the same
As last year’s?

The body settles in the cold night,
The cold feet reminding me that body
Is mine.


This piece was inspired by elements from three pieces of poetry: Ripenso il tuo sorriso by Eugenio Montale, from which I took the image of ‘recano il loro dolore con sé come un talismano’ (I bear the pain he carried like a talisman). From The Hand that Signed the Paper by Dylan Thomas I was moved by how we sometimes feel our body is alien from our mind, as if we acted by inertia. I kept that narrative style along the poem. Finally, from the poem Mariposa de Otoño by Pablo Neruda, I took the symbols of death: the falling leaves, the cold after the sun sets, and the difficult truth that everything will leave, die, or disappear. All elements summed up and were powerful enough to write a personal piece on a recent loss I experienced last year being far away from home, and be able to talk about it.

The title of this piece is in Spanish, as the play on words, by changing just one vowel, works in this language and not in English. Duele means ‘it hurts’, Duelo means ‘mourning’, and at the same it can mean ‘I hurt’.

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