Poems and Texts

“Letter to Liz Taylor (or Egyptian emeralds for AZT)” by Pedro Lemebel, Translated by Montana Ray

Letter to Liz Taylor (or Egyptian emeralds for AZT)

Así, dear Liz, without knowing if this letter will ever be read by the calypso of your eyes. And further, appreciating your very busy schedule, please allow me to join the throng of AIDS sufferers writing to solicit something from you. Perhaps a lock of your hair, an autograph, a bit of lace cut from your slip. I don’t know, anything so one could die knowing you’d received their message. The thing is, I don’t want to die or to receive a printed autograph or even a photo of you with Montgomery Cliff in Raintree County. None of that, just an emerald from your Cleopatra crown you wore in the film, they say they’re real. So genuine, just one would let me live some years more, on pure AZT.

I don’t want to pressure you with the tears of a dying queer-croc or strip you of something dear. Maybe I’ll even be rescuing you from those gems, cursed by the Pharos, which in the end will bring only bad luck, inciting thieves to ransack your house. Oh, it’s no joke, remember Sharon Tate, that was hardly funny. Not to mention the gay bar gossips, those vipers saying you’ve lost the jewels in your wrinkles. That you don’t have any neck left under so many trinkets. That a queen should be more restrained, that at your age the glitter of rubies clashes with cellulite. That Julio Inglesias went cross-eyed from so much sparkle. That the checks for the AIDS cause, which you send with such devotion, stay tangled up in the fingers trafficking the plague. They say, get this, your piety is pure silver screen, promotion, you know, like the campaign’s symbol. That little red loop, the poor queers buy in plastic made I’m sure in Taiwan. And the rich, in rubies and gold so gaudy it looks like a prop, that little bow. A device for detecting who has the prize, you know, people love to talk. I’ve even heard them say you’re infected, that’s how you lost the weight. Just look at the photos from a few years ago, there wasn’t a designer who’d have you. And now, all this love for homosexual with AIDS? All this love for that Jackson, Christ of pop, singing: “Let the little children come to me.” Listen, where did all this endorsement come from? All this love for us queers, just like Liza Minelli, Barbara Striesand, and María Félix. And all of the stars who suckle las locas like spoiled little dogs. As if queers were accessories for coquettish use. As if we’re the treasure of the Nile or the last glimmer of a submerged Atlantis. While, look, not a peep for the lesbians? When it should be the reverse, they say. First home team solidarity, then love for las locas. They even have a nickname in New York for the rich and famous who run back and forth with their courtiers and stylists.

Liz, personally, I think it’s pure sour grapes, nothing more than envy. Besides, us fags, we’re known to have a star for a heart and a soul of silver, hence our mutual attachment. Hence the intimacy I have with you which allows me to ask this favor. If it’s all right with you, if it isn’t too much of a bother? I’ll be yours eternally, with AIDS. Remember, an itsy bitsy little, not too many carat, emerald, they won’t even notice is missing once you pop it from your crown. After all, you have all that turquoise to eclipse any other radiance. I’m from Chile, send it to the return address. You don’t know this country, they say there’s a lot of silver here, but I’ve never seen it.

Tu admirador, forever.

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