translated by Lawrence Schimel


A photograph of a firework erupting at dusk. The darkening sky is just visible in the gap between two buildings.

I’m terrified of my migrant parents,
always with their eyes set on flight.

Is that how you solve everything,       Papá?
Are you going to once more do what he tells you, Mamá?

I’m more terrified by the wound of birth,
I hide it in the oriental part of the       HERE.
What was so bad so as to abandon the THERE
where one finds oneself at just twenty?
How did they do it to reconstruct (themselves),
to recompose (themselves),
to resist?

How to raise an offspring who curses a place that
she has never visited,
who dreams in a language she doesn’t know,
who lives in another one which will always be foreign to her?

What is so good to justify staying?
What European dream is being
the Chinese woman who sells beer,
the Chinese man of the village,
the Chinese girl of El Hormiguero,
the Chinese kid of Física o Química,
the China girl of China boy?

       That is not my dream.

My dream is to be the blood that flows from the migratory wound,
the Valencian queen of the gunpowder blessed by my ancestors.

My dream is that they don’t separate me from my father
and from my mother
into one line for foreigners
and another for Europeans,
that we embark
through the same gate,
that we fly together
to wherever
passports are
an obscenity.

Translation from the Spanish

Editorial note: From Invocación a las mayorías silenciosas (Invocation to the silent majorities) (Letraversal, 2022).

Paloma Chen (b. 1997, Alicante) investigated the Chinese diaspora in Spain in Crecer en ‘un chino’ and has contributed to El Salto, El País, and La Marea. She won the 2020 Viva #LdeLírica National Poetry Prize and has recited in such festivals as Irreconciliables in Málaga and in spaces such as the Fórum Social Europeu das Migrações and the Asia Europe Peoples’ Forum.

Lawrence Schimel is a bilingual author and literary translator based in Madrid, working in and between English and Spanish. His translations have won a PEN Translates Award from English PEN (three times) and the Cliff Becker Book Translation Award.