Diorama with Polar Bear
trans. Robin Myers

A polar bear lives at the end of the hall.

The entrance fee’s expensive, but if you go
you can see it gorge on a seal, dripping false blood.

Does the stuffed bear dream of living seals?

The taxidermist who mounted its body
knows all about its pliant skin,
the calculations of its skeleton,
each angle of its joints,
but not the spirit of the ice that used to stir there.

Like a watchman at the zoo,
he’s the custodian of a vanquished animal.

We made a science of your desolation, too.

Robin Myers is a Mexico City-based poet and translator. Recent translations include Cars on Fire by Mónica Ramón Ríos (Open Letter Books), The Restless Dead by Cristina Rivera Garza (Vanderbilt University Press), and Animals at the End of the World by Gloria Susana Esquivel (University of Texas Press). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Denver Quarterly, the Yale Review, the North American Review, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere. She writes a monthly column on translation for Palette Poetry.

Read Robin Myers interviewed by Lauren Peat.


Diorama con oso polar
Isabel Zapata

Al fondo del pasillo vive un oso polar.

La entrada es cara pero si te acercas
lo verás devorar una foca de sangre falsa.

¿Sueña el oso disecado con focas vivas?

El taxidermista que arregló su cuerpo
conoce la elasticidad de su piel,
la aritmética de su esqueleto,
el ángulo exacto de sus articulaciones
pero no el espíritu de hielo que en ellas se agitaba.

Como el vigilante del zoológico,
es guardián de un animal vencido.

También de tu soledad hicimos una ciencia.

Isabel Zapata is a Mexico City-born writer and editor. She has published three books of poetry and the bilingual essay collection Alberca vacía / Empty Pool (Argonáutica, 2019, trans. Robin Myers). Other poems from Una ballena es un país have appeared in English translation in World Literature Today, Waxwing, The Common, the Rio Grande Review, Words Without Borders, and are forthcoming in the Massachusetts Review.


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