Top Banner Image

Tierra del Fuego

You who see our homes at night
and the frail walls of our conscience,
you who hear our conversations
droning on like sewing machines
—save me, tear me from sleep,
from amnesia.

Why is childhood—oh, tinfoil treasures,

oh, the rustling of lead, lovely and foreboding—
our only origin, our only longing?
Why is manhood, which takes the place of ripeness,
an endless highway,
Sahara yellow?

After all, you know there are days
when even thirst runs dry
and prayer’s lips harden.

Sometimes the sun’s coin dims
and life shrinks so small
that you could tuck it
in the blue gloves of the Gypsy
who predicts the future
for seven generations back

and then in some other little town
in the south a charlatan
decides to destroy you,
me, and himself.

You who see the whites of our eyes,
you who hide like a bullfinch
in the rowans,
like a falcon
in the clouds’ warm stockings

—open the boxes full of song,
open the blood that pulses in aortas
of animals and stones,
light lanterns in black gardens.

Nameless, unseen, silent,
save me from anesthesia,
take me to Tierra del Fuego,
take me where the rivers
flow straight up, horizontal rivers
flowing up and down.

– trans. Clare Cavanagh