Latin American Writers

a window on their lives and work

Excerpt from Tocar a Diana, an erotic novel by Anacristina Rossi

Translated by Carol Polsgrove and Paloma Fernández Sánchez

[es] We take the ferry and change country and direct ourselves south and then each time further to the west. As we rolled toward the west the countryside started to differentiate itself, becoming mysterious and breathtaking.  

            I was twenty-two when we met and together we crossed the English Channel and she went with me into Gaelic territory. She wanted to show me first the supreme splendor and we went to Perros Guirec. It was a cold coast of pink granite and emerald green sea, a unique beauty but also different from that of the rivers and seas that in the past had made me feel so much. With Katell things appeared light to me, a caress that, due to the similarities of our bodies, sent us on a twin journey to laughter. We visited villages of indescribable enchantment and we went on traveling through the night and the great part of the day until arriving exhausted at the house of Plouescat…..

The sun fell on the sea with a deep purple color that made me think of the scary stories told at night and of a bactericidal violeta gencian. The house was of stone, with immense windows. Katell gave me a bedroom on the bay.  I took my things out of the car, arranged them and with the last rays of light I went to the sea and a blast of cold struck my skin, all had been eased and boats were sailing in favorable channels.

I returned to the house revitalized by the strong smell of seaweed and Katell opened her arms to receive me. But when she embraced me it was like scorching. My skin crawled. That women of 38 who I already loved: tall, with mahogany hair, skin the color of fresh cream and green eyes, hurt. I let go immediately.  She was very wise and did not take it as anything personal but gazed at me, surprised. She touched me again and the pain was very sharp. She made no tragedy of it. She looked at me again with a mix of clinical curiosity and compassion. “Touch yourself,” she asked me. And I put my hand on my other hand and it did not hurt me. The contact of a beloved being was what I could not stand.  Katell watched me with her big eyes full of patience and murmured: “If you already felt once, it will return. It is a stumbling block of your past. You don’t need to tell me. But you will come to my Breton women’s group”.

Katell was part of a druidic group. They gathered on certain afternoons among the menhirs of Carnac, in the Morbihan, around the cromlec. I joined them. It was an impressive place, 1099 menhirs in 11 rows. They sang in Bretón and in old French. At times songs to the moon, like this one that I remember well:

O non comparable roïne

            Ki regnes o Dieus sans termine

            O ysopes tous maus purgans,

            O femme fors, non feminine

            Lune plaine, no descriossans,

            Enluminée, enluminans,

            Tous tans reonde et enterine.

They used the bagpipe. They had fabulous voices.

            The journey from Finesterre to Morbihan was long but we made it without fail. At the end of weeks of meetings, the women of Carnac announced to me that I had no physical problem. And one night, before returning to Plouescat, Katell told me: “All your being is asking for love and I am going to give it to you come wind or high water. Of wind and high water we know much in the Finesterre.” And then she embraced me. And now I did not feel pain. I asked her: “How do you know that I am asking you for love?” “It isn’t me,” she replied, “you would have asked any good person who had arrived in that moment in the British Museum. For something I have 38 years and the knowledge of these women, some centenarians. I long to love you, Diana. To give you what you need. For something you have that name of a solitary goddess. And for something I found you.” “But Diana in my country is the name of a bitch,” I said. “Yes, but of a hunting dog, without doubt.” And then I remembered all the dogs “Diana” that I had known and yes, they were bloodhounds: with long snouts, hanging ears. And I laughed. And all the women laughed with me. It was a memorable night. Weeks later we were able to make love.

Translation Copyright 2021 Carol Polsgrove and Paloma Fernández Sánchez, published by permission of Anacristina Rossi

Tocar a Diana (Alfaguara, 2019) is published on Kindle.