for Roger Bartra
Axolotl looks at me and says nothing. Axolotl swims. With his two tiny legs, or perhaps hands? “If your hands are hands, tell me, what are anemones like?” asks Owen. Axolotl has hands he waves. His body is jelly-like, Axolotl looks at me and says nothing, silence. His skin, thick foam, transparent, or mirror?
Yesterday I dreamt him, his playful smile, his fierce mane like a tree that has been rooted. He was trying to tell me something and all he could was throw little round bubbles, a terrible handicap of his vocal chords, frustration, evolution had not granted him the ability to express himself; for fear that he would say it all? Anna suddenly awoke, with her tiny Axolotl eyes, she took my hand; nightmare. –I dreamt he talked to me, Axolotl talked- -Don’t be silly- I said, -Axolotl doesn’t ever say anything.-
But what if he really talked to her? Why her?
Anna observes him out of the corner of her eye, a certain suspicion in her eye, careful in her moves, untrusting, does she fear a reflection? She tries to decipher the primitive language of his gestures, -what did he want to tell me last night? - -what did he tell you Anna? - -I don’t know-
Axolotl appeared here one day, spontaneous generation? He got here with his two eyes, his six gills, with his long and vague tail. Where does his tail end? Where does the water start? Or could it be that he was born there, from the viscous liquid, from his tail? Anna doesn’t like Axolotl, his fish tank stinks, his body is transparent and she can see his organs. All that disgusts her, Anna complains. Once Anna told me the reason why we don’t make love anymore. She said that Axolotl looks like a penis, seeing it all day took away her sexual lust, -when I see your penis I feel it is smiling at me.- Axolotl smiles.
Axolotl: I love pronouncing it, the sound down in the throat, like gargles, dry, and the snapping of the tongue, its four syllables, its Nahuatl origin. I say it like if it were the last stand in the heroic defense of Tenochtitlan, defending the city with the tongue, the x falls down on the invaders like arrows: Axolotl. –Anna have your remembered what he said? - -No-
Axolotl has that way of staying suspended in the water, inert, like Anna in my arms before sleeping, their faces don’t say anything, a slight curve rising in the mouth, indecipherable, but full of secrets. “Not to know who you are or what you’re thinking, today I would destroy you to find out.” I’m reminded of Owen again.
We go on a trip for a few days, Anna and me. We need time together, find ourselves, get away. When we leave it’s raining and Axolotl sees the drops falling outside, from his state of hypnotic stillness, he does not turn round to look at us as we leave the apartment. Not even that.
The sea is the best place to escape reality and the Axolotls, unfortunately Anna and me have ended up in a lake. Something in the density of the water and the flabby consistence of the plankton reminds her of Axolotl. –He said something to me, it was important! - Was it a nightmare? –Try to remember Anna.-
Anna can’t remember but clearly thinks about it all day. At night she even tries to have nightmares, she reads ghost stories, leaves at dusk for walks around the lake, amongst the fog and mud, then she sleeps head up –to see if Axolotl speaks to me again-. Axolotl hasn’t spoken to her, Anna has started to snore. Could it be that Axolotl is speaking to me?
The moon is beautiful over the lake, like velvet, the snoring doesn’t let me sleep so I observe the view from my window like from behind a fish tank, the great body of water, thick, thick, oh that word… What is the world like behind a fish tank? What does that moon baked plankton taste like?
I listen to myself and fear I’m speaking more and more like Anna, I’d better try and sleep.
Every night Anna’s snoring gets worse and she still can’t remember. After her morning walk she wraps her frozen feet around my thighs, adding to the noise, I am now cold. I can’t bear this any longer.
In what language does an Axolotl speak?
I’ve finally fell asleep when Anna jumps and wakes me –we have to go back. - Honestly I’ve been thinking the same thing, it’s been days since I last slept and I barley feel my thighs, despite this I ask why -Its Axolotl, he said something important and I cannot remember- That far I know already, but I’m not about to discuss why that’s a reason to suddenly head back. We make our suitcases and in the middle of the night drive back.
Axolotl is not in his fish tank, he has disappeared, Anna who hates him, is looking desperately for him, she even opens the refrigerator door. –I don’t think he’ll be there- I say really meaning it. But it’s true, Axolotl is no more, he’s disappeared.
Out of the water an Axolotl feels uncomfortable, its hands don’t move, its tail finds its outline, so he can’t be far, but he’s not there and it’s obvious that he’s gone. I tell Anna and she starts crying, I thought that the news might incite her to retake our sexual life. Now Anna doesn’t even want to warm her feet on my thighs.
One week has gone by without Axolotl. I still pronounce his name with effort in case he might remember and decide to come back, perhaps not Tenochtitlan but my marriage depends on it. Anna still thinks the key is in that nightmare. What was it he told her?
It’s Thursday and I’m hungry, the kitchen is calm. Anna counts the drops that fall, she has taken his habits, more and more she resembles an Axolotl. But I’m hungry so I search for some snack in the cellar, nothing, now the fridge. I open it and as I do so something horrible happens, I see a vague figure jump towards me and then immediately I feel some kind of claws grasp me on the top of my head. I scream desperately, Anna doesn’t care, I suppose she’s counting drops, thirteen thousand maybe. I scream again whilst I shake my head like crazy until the creature jumps and falls on the ground in its four legs and tail. I observe a thick and horrible beast that looks at me and says nothing. It is then that I hear a chilling cry coming from the living room, its Anna. Is she also being attacked by some prehistoric beast?
But no. –I remembered what he said!-
-What? What did he say? - I ask desperately, more for the fear of the reptile looking straight at me from a corner in the kitchen than because I’m interested, in that precise moment, on what an Axolotl has to say.
But Anna shouts again.
-He told me he wasn’t an Axolotl.-
Translation by the author.