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  • Barbara Bordalejo

Day 22: Ghosts

It hit me when I read the essay's title. For a moment, confused thoughts rushed within me like white water: the suicide, the note, her son who didn't know about his birth father, the discovery, much later, when he found his birth certificate while cleaning the house, the fact that everyone else knew. And more: my dead ex-husband, who was his cousin (he thought), and Pedro (who is also gone) and was his dad, even if he was not his biological father. And her friends who remembered her. I have the vague idea that she had tried to kill herself before she finally succeeded. Did my student know all this? Did she know that I knew? Why this poem? Why this poet? Did I ever mention Venezuela? What did I say? I remember her from my aunt's house with so many other artists, journalists and intellectuals from the Caracas of the 70s and 80s. Many of them exiled from countries buried under the weight of the worst dictatorships we have known. All of them, drinking wine and whisky, eating paella purchased in one of the best restaurants in the city or food my mother had spent hours preparing (vitel toné, upside-down pineapple cake). The day she died, someone called to tell us. Ernesto, her son, was the one who found her. It was November 29th, 1991. Two days after Miguel's birthday, for some reason, I think Ernesto's birthday was close in time, but I cannot remember whether he was 19 or 20. We knew her as Miyó Vestrini, but she had been born Marie-Jose Fauvelle, in France. This last fact, I just discovered today. Miyó seemed typically Venezuelan, dark hair and dark eyes (a bit like me, I guess). Her mind might have been dark too, but that is not in her poetry. Not in the poems read long ago, nor in the ones read today. I knew she was a good poet, but I didn't remember how good she was.



She was not the only intellectual we lost during those times, but she was the first person I knew who succeeded in killing herself (at least another one came later, but that was not surprising). In my mind, Miyó is inevitably linked to Miguel and Pedro, and they, in turn, speak of others who are also gone. A string of ghosts, of lost talents and gifts that can never be recovered, Miyó was 53 when she died. Only a few years older than me now. I was 21 then, and could barely understand the meaning of what she had done. Twenty-nine years ago, it seemed an act of bravery, of defiance. Today, Miyó came back to haunt me while I'm still awake and she brought with her a multitude of ghosts that will unsettle my dreams.


10:43 pm:

Canada cases 16,667

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B. Bordalejo

2020

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