Winter in San Francisco, fingers painting lines in the dust of a bookstore, and I’ve been trying, since he left, to learn the language of myself. The language into which I’ve been rewritten. I’m drawing a line between each word and the meaning he gave it, I’m running myself backwards through Google: never again will someone else interpret the private voice of my body. Never again will a man reach down my throat and create from it a grammar to replace my own. In the basement of the bookstore, a boarding pass pressed between the pages of a paperback, a long-departed flight to Stockholm: oil from someone else’s fingertips, glimpses of a ghost in the fiber.
love, n. 1. the pain of being split from entrance to entrance by a man who does not listen to protests. 2. the fear born from feeling something wet and unwelcome dripping down your thigh, sticking to your chest, running down your face towards your eye.
love, v. 1. to carry in your purse a collection of ghosts, one for each word the translator could have selected and didn’t. one for each meaning gone unchosen. 2. to understand that the truth you were given was not the truth that was real.
Summer in San Francisco, when he hadn’t left, and I was one with the upholstery. The sofa was velvet and came with the apartment, it was the rusty color of a nail. I made scrambled eggs and didn’t open the window, I left a vibrator on until it died; I bought a second-hand book in the Mission and the cover said in translation. I have always believed that a book in translation is a newborn thing: it cannot mean the same as its parent. Write woman, read girl; write hate and find instead an empty space. I think love and I feel the pain radiating from my pelvis. There is violence in a mistranslation.
Män som hatar kvinnor — Sweden
Hommes qui n’aimaient pas les femmes — France
Uomini che odiano le donne — Italy
Los hombres que no amaban a las mujeres — Spain
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — U.S.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — U.K.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — Canada
Winter in San Francisco, buried in the basement of a bookstore, and I have come to understand that meaning is made by the translator. My rabbit heart, and its frantic rhythm: violence translated into the language of love.