> Symptom: Latin America Contemporary Photography

Letters to Gemma

Mariceu Erthal, México

My steps resonate in illusory time,

filled with raindrops of May.

My hands are broken from so much touching the wind,

My ears buzz to hear hope to sing…

My heart beats…”

– Poem by Gemma Mávil, missing since 2011.


Today I walked through your door, 

which remains open waiting for you to enter smiling, 

as if just any thing had happened, 

a delay in the bus, a meeting with a friend,

or as if you had just lost track of time reading a book as you liked to do. 

As if these years had not rotted the walls and turned off all the lights of the house. 

But today, only I arrive.

You were my age when your dreams were destroyed, 

and since I heard your story I am afraid that someone will turn off mine, 

if I today I disappear, 

when they hear your story they would read mine, 

because I inhabit your spaces, 

I feel you in mines, I embrace the tired eyes of your parents  

and I cry your uninterrupted story.  

Your kindness, the religious union with your mother, 

the flowers you cultivated, 

your connection with water, 

Your absence will always breathe painfully in these spaces, 

and I, without knowing you, 

do not cease to feel you.