By Cynthia Cruz


MD feeds her words into the machinery. She presses her self into the text: sweat, blood, excrement.

It is a vile exercise. It is exquisite, this mysteriousness, this act of brute survival.

One thinks of feeding; of pressing oil-soaked bread into the open mouth of a hungry child.

It is vulgar, it is death. It is the white smear of sex. Piled up, her words are a tower of filthy bodies. Hunger, poverty, the deep stain of destitution.

She feeds the words into her small blue typing machine. The letters stick. They stick.
She presses her liquor-stained fingers onto the plastic glide of the buttons: “M” “D.”


“The link with poverty is there in the man’s hat, too, for money has got to be brought in, got to be brought in somehow.” MD, The Lover.

Poverty is in the language, it is in her gaze back. It seeps and oozes into every poverty-stricken word. Each word is used sparingly as if each word were currency.

It is everywhere. It stains everything.
It is everywhere. It flies about. It watches from every corner of the page.

Poverty is not something one leaves behind. A child born into poverty will always feel its presence at the edges of everything.

Even right now, you can feel it—it is in my words, these tiny fractured things.



She removes herself from the tremendous stink of poverty.

Poverty. Poverty.

Then, say it again.

Poverty. Detritus, shit.

But, also: glitter, gutter, silver grammar.
From out of the cut comes the sound of the new.



Our origins define us. We cannot escape our origins. Like Lispector, Duras’ very being is mired in poverty and trauma. She is a stain on the map. She is one of the hungry. This song is the song that sings into all of her soiled music.

Dirty, filthy child.

She creates the world from the word.

By renaming herself, she becomes another. She becomes the character she creates by marking down the words. The author, the writer, subsumed the poor, pale, sick girl from Saigon. This girl, Duras, is intellect, is shimmer and brilliance.

For where the mind is, there is the treasure.
The word, Duras, digests her: she becomes the word.



Duras died in childhood. Poverty, shame. Everything past the age of fifteen is chronicled, written down. Like Louise Bourgeois (another lipstick, hosiery ripped lady), whose work derives from one small window of time (the ten years when her father had an affair with her nanny), Duras’ entire oeuvre springs from her gaze back at the wreckage. The wreckage gazes back at her and she becomes the wreckage.


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