Born in Cali in 1991, Lerma studied social communication and journalism at the Universidad del Valle. Her poems have been published in the individual collections El lenguaje de mi alma (2008) and Oscuridad en luz alta (2015), and she has also participated in collective works like Antología poética amores urbanos (2011) and Trébol de cuatro hojas (2014). Currently she is editing her book Precisiones sobre la incerteza (2016). She won scholarships from the Fondo Mixto de Cultura y la Secretaría de Cultura de Cali in 2015 for her poetry, and in 2016 in the digital publishing category for her compilation of poetry El ojo del huracán. Her poems have been published in the literary magazines Barbarie ilustrada, the blog Emma Gunst, Círculo de poesía, Luna nueva and Literariedad.
And what if death
And what if death is just wandering
dragging along the image of this body
feeling the angsts
everything that hurt us in life?
And what if death is just shadows and rage
fierce silence that never ends
everything both near and far
unable to touch or embrace us?
And what if death is not so unknown
but looks like the face of my mother when she cries?
And what if death is not going to make us wise
and we keep going with the same stupidity
If that beautiful landscape
filled with white robes
doesn’t exist except in stories
what will we do about death,
where will we find ourselves,
how will we wait for it?
What if death is the same as life?
What will the face of my father be like when he dies?
Will I buy lilies or will I stay still looking at the empty vases?
What size will my heart become when it realizes?
Will I wear high heels to the burial?
On whose shoulder will I lay my head?
Will I argue with Mama about the words in the obituary? Will Mama still be there?
Will my sister cry along with me or will she keep her face closed?
Which phrase will stay in my memory, will I forget his bad temper, will I put his five virtues on a pedestal?
Will he be able to to remind me where I’m going, will he carry me in his anguish or his dream?
How many days will I dress in black?
Will I cry with regret that I kept silent or for everything I said?
Will the silence of the earth or the crackling of fire be the last thing he hears?
Will I keep the band on his ring finger or will I avoid his things, as if they were sad?
Will I discover one night what I am forgetting?
Will I open my wounds, will I make myself shout, will I doubt my love?
The uncertainty is what is certain.
I ask myself these questions on an everyday morning
as Papa serves a big mug of steaming aguapanela
and looks at me writing without knowing what I’m thinking.
To the old woman I will be
We still don’t know each other
but I am dying
little by little
for you to exist
I’m going to leave you a body
that you will flaunt gloriously
for having been what you were
what will no longer be
Looking at yourself in the mirror
you will remember the firmness of your chest
the way your hair became brittle
in the dry summer
The joyful bravery
now needed to smile with all teeth
and to give your body to another body
in full light
In every beauty mark you will find a wrinkle
like a crater of time
Your bones will hurt
and you will no longer jump
to reach the stars
–I hope by that time you have your own constellations–
Everything will fall
and in that virtuous abyss
you will find yourself
free of masks
free of that useless beauty
that weighs on your shoulders
and in your wide hips
You will be so you, so me
that is, so us
Soon you will laugh reading this poem
of a lost girl
and bursting into tears
in front of the dark reflection of her face.
The poems here were originally published in Darkness in Bright Light and Precisions of Uncertainty.
Translations by Jessica Sequeira.