Saturday, April 14, 2012

Homero Aridjis, "An Anonymous Conquistador Recalls His Passing Through the New Land," Trans. George McWhirter

I slept on beds of stone.
I had a serpent of stone for a bolster
in a feather chamber where the image
of death flickered back at me off every wall.

The roof was a puddle of mud.
Earth lay on my face
and my legs were as blue as the sky.
Like a splinter of noon,
a humming bird flew out to the left of my dream.

In the flint of the night, 
my body blended with the gods'.
On my brow I had a gust of blood,
black sandals for outstriding the wind on my feet
and through my hand a hole for spying on mankind.

Drunk on ritual, I dug in the obsidian knife
and tore out the heart of the sacred dead.
Swift messengers carried
the flames I kindled in his chest
to the four corners of unlit space.

In the stained face of the forest goddess
I saw hidden the heavenly blaze (we all quest for
in books) in the eyes of that nameless animal
whose everyday form, or tread of whose passing
I could never know, or hear, or imagine.

One day, out of my own darkness, I arrived
at a sleeping village,
with golden plugs through my ears and stripes down my face,
and smiling infinitely with light
the sea crested in my eyes.

Since then,
my life is a bolt of lightning
clad like a man, or
perhaps in rags,
perhaps in shadows.

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