Issue #72

Fall 2019


by Elaine Vilar Madruga
(translated by Toshiya Kamei)

The woman had been walking in the woods for more than a week.

During all that time, she only heard her own voice and birds chirping on the branches. Her belly had swollen at an increasingly faster rate. She was a ripe fruit about to burst. Her baby was ready to come into the world.

Her labor pains came upon her, and she could do nothing but throw herself on the grass and scream in sharp pain. With a final push, her womb widened and her children flew into the trees with incredulous songs of freedom. The mother lay a little longer on the grass, recovering from the bruises the beaks and legs had left on her thighs. Then, slowly, she wiped the feathers barely held by dried blood from her vagina's entrance.

She called her children with words, but they didn't understand. They glared at her from the branches and chirped thrusting their beaks. One of them swooped down and dared peck her hand, as if he wanted to nibble bread crusts. The mother wanted to feed them, but she had nothing else. She bared her round breasts. Drops of milk budded at the tips of her nipples.

The birds descended one after another. They attached to her breasts like starving orphans. Each one struggled to take another drop of milk, flesh, nipple.

Then, nothing.

Only the melancholic sound of the woods echoed while the birds sang without knowing why.

Author Bio


Born in Havana, Cuba in 1989, Elaine Vilar Madruga is a poet, fictionwriter, and playwright. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies around the globe. She has authored more than thirty books,including Culto de acoplamiento (2015), Sakura (2016), Fragmentos de la tierra rota (2017), El Hambre y la Bestia (2018), and Los años del silencio (2019). Translations of her short stories have appeared in venues such as The Bitter Oleander, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Mithila Review.

Toshiya Kamei holds an MFA in Literary Translation from the University of Arkansas. His translations of Latin American literature include My Father Thinks I'm a Fakir by Claudia Apablaza, Silent Herons by Selfa Chew, and The Torments of Aristarco by Ana García Bergua.