Erin Goodman

Daisy Novoa Vaisquez

AUTOPSIA EN REVERSA (REVERSE AUTOPSY), Daisy Novoa Vásquez: Translation by Erin Goodman


Veo mi piel tendida sobre una piedra,
hileras de tendones, músculos y fibra
reposan junto a torres de huesos y cartílagos
que suplicantes y desconcertados me miran…

Los pedazos que me hacen
están esperándome en silencio:
los sesos, la órbita de los ojos,
la comisura de los labios, los recuerdos…

Todo yace sobre una superficie amplia, estéril,
y tengo que zurcirme a mí misma,
practicar esta autopsia en reversa,
entender por qué estoy viva.

¿Qué pasa si equivoco el orden,
si enredo conexiones de órganos y arterias,
si estropeo el rompecabezas de neuronas y tejidos?
¿Es acaso esta una prueba
de cuánto me conozco,
de qué tan humana he sido?


I see my skin laid out on a slab
rows of tendons, muscles and fiber
rest next to heaps of bone and cartilage.
Bewildered, they look up at me, imploringly…

The fragments that form me
silently await me;
the brains, the orbits of my eyes,
the corner of my mouth, the memories…

They’re all splayed on an ample, sterile surface,
and I must mend myself
undertake this reverse autopsy,
understand why I’m alive.

What if I messed up the order
entangle the ties of organs and arteries,
perturb the puzzle of neurons and tissue?
Could this be a test to measure
how well I know myself,
how human I have been?

Translated by Erin Goodman

Erin Goodman is a literary translator residing in Boston. She selected and translated a collection of poetry by Juana Rosa Pita (b. 1939, Havana) entitled The Miracle Unfolds (Song Bridge Press, 2021), and the memoir by former Chilean minister Sergio Bitar, Prisoner of Pinochet (University of Wisconsin Press, 2017). Her short fiction and poetry translations have appeared in Poetry International Rotterdam, spoKe, Northwest Review, Presence, New England Review, and Los Angeles Review, among other publications.

Daisy Novoa Vásquez is a Chilean-Ecuadorian poet, writer and translator living in the USA. She teaches Spanish at Harvard University and contributes to the newspapers El Tiempo Latino of Washington D.C. and El Planeta of Boston. She is the author of Fluir en ausencia (ArtePoética Press, 2014) and Las formas sutiles de los cuerpos (Valparaíso Ediciones, 2022). Her poems and translations have been published in anthologies and literary journals in several countries. She has participated in various international and national literary festivals in and has collaborated with organizations such as the Institute of Contemporary Art of Boston (ICA), Casa de las Américas -Cuba, and The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds, among others. Daisy also participates in artistic installations and works promoting the arts, intercultural understanding, respect for nature, and creative education. She was a writer-in-residence for the University of Massachusetts, and a member of Hispanic Writers Week, which brought poetry to public schools across the state. Daisy is a graduate of NWMSU, Gordon College and Harvard University and also studied at the University of Ulsan, in South Korea. Her love for literature and nature developed at an early age sharing with her parents, sisters and grandmother in Ecuador and while picking raspberries in the field of her maternal grandparents in Chile.