A selection of poems from
The shadows, the words, have changed
the tiger walks between bluffs
and crags, the prince of white fur,
the captain of tigers, I call him,
there are others that are spotted, but I am
so close to myself I don’t know whether to believe what I see,
if I am mistaken in making him out
from others with red stones on their backs,
stones like spots.
Around six in the afternoon
the cat sinks its body in the water
its blood trembles
and the glycine flower wraps itself around dry sticks.
Today, Sunday, I hope for a visitor,
like a cat to prick up my ears and with still eyes
follow the color blue, one of the consolations
for my body as heavy as that violet stone
that blends with the greenness in the silence.
On days like this the body burns
and I again seek out that hidden green,
I would like you to hear it:
I scratch myself with my teeth and claw a blanket
to convert the movement of nails into sound.
The danger does not appear at first,
it takes time to understand that waves crash
against rocks and more time to stop the body
from trying to find safe harbor.
When you’ve lost it, the water reminds you
that it is not possible to start over,
at least not with the same body.
Like a small animal, with weak fur,
pointy ears, the hands and feet of a monkey,
and hair as smooth as mine is these days,
thus, I believe, it will be possible to survive in the sea.
With sorrow I stroke the plum tree leaves
before the rain they looked like purple and white flowers.
That the four rivers that cross the island flow to the sea
makes me have a body nearer.
I also have finally come to see
that as a captive it is better to be here,
today it is almost snowing and I debut
a new cap that the fish like very much,
at first sight it looks like I have gills because two small
flaps stick out of its sides, with this cap on
it’s as if I can move neither forwards nor back.
I would tell you that the birds that had gone, have come back,
and that I now have a rosy beak, tail feathers, and devote myself
completely to the flowers and fruit of the orange tree.
There is something that has left me confused:
the despair has become greater,
a cowardice that I only now know.
I have not knownnor been able to understand
how light’s fading away is so different
each day, how it is that the sea sets off storms,
I hadn’t thought before of the white, crystalline salt
that in water dissolves and how the sun
sparkles more on salt that it does on green. Dog,
reptile, bird of prey, all this surprises me
the fragility, the wings that unfold
there are yellow flowers that vegetate in the head
and other parts of the body.
It is the dawning hour, the sky striated
by miniscule red-scarlet channels;
I have a new nest and devote myself
to scraping a stick with a blade, I leave it smooth,
when I finish scraping it I keep it.
At dusk I make necklaces
or anything else without meaning:
pick up a sweet pear,
somewhat rotten, but ever so sweet.
Nibbling at a pear you realize
that being alone in the afternoon’s red hour
is like letting a leaf bud from your body
and from that another and another.
With my long tail, my wide, red, forked tongue,
my marine appearance is more fearsome than the wound
I can inflict. I must tell you, there is nothing in me
which is as fatal as it looks,
I would like to know about your life, if your journeys
are kindly and generous, if you found peace,
I would tell you that I have taken to flying
and feeding on lizards.
At nightfall, when the air is cool
I may worry at the sound of children’s voices
heard resonating out in the distance,
I know that they too are predators
and vicious, I was so, small body drawn in,
belly shining, brandishing my desires
like a sewing needle. Around here you so often hear
the screeching of iron,
like the mole cricket’s sharp sting.
I desire to return and find that sleepy tortoise
as if it had never left, I tell Oscar.
Oscar is a cat with a strange talent,
he predicts when someone on the island is about to leave
or die. He makes his rounds
as if he were a doctor
or an airport control tower operator.
When he comes and stays a long while
I tell him that I also knew when you were going to go
and that at that moment I would have liked to descend
to the center of the earth and find there
some simple truth.
This afternoon I spoke with some travelers,
they too had news of that tree
which bears leaves, flowers and fruit all together
for a time in winter.
But that is nothing, on the island there is a fig tree,
in summer it lets its leaves fall,
and they crawl on the ground like worms.
I think that inside they have some vital force
that like a short breath moves them along.
From here, where the four rivers
that cross the island meet, I can imagine
myself walking to a few blocks from your house,
I go with my long tail and my neck is wider,
a stout, short, fleshy muzzle and shining eyes,
as soon as I have some time I could return
to leave you a bouquet of pale flowers. Now I try
being the duck that rests engrossed with scraggy feathers
and rough beak, just as the gale left me.
Other times, as is my wont,
I try being the red lamb among wolves, a lamb with light-colored eyes
that follows its mother, a blank look on its face.
Or I could also tell you I am somewhat changed
if you saw me: I watch, I hope and await the return of the blue
I have the same terrors butI show my claws and fangs,
of all the fears, only one persists,
becoming a lizard for real.
In the water I found a strong ally
I have baptized it guruvilú, that is, fox-serpent
it has the strongest effect on me: curiosity.
There are days when I dip myself in the water and I don’t know
if by the moon’s influence or a simple movement of the sun
I can slide so sinuously on the ground
like a serpent with deep blue rings
from tail to mouth, but that serpent’s body,
pale and covered, is not me,
I would like to clarify for your ears
some of these things, but you have told me
it is not possible for now,
since your new pursuits occupy your entire day
and also that your life is better, more solid.
Pay me no mind, just tell me
if it is true that the scales on my hide
continue to gleam despite having been
torn off one by one, and that even so
the body is content with this small life.
I touch my body, far from voluptuous,
it is like that of a lobster but with scales,
the ever so hard skin convinces me that there is no need
to fear arrows. I know now that beetles
can walk without hurting their wings
that we all love the womb that nourishes us
and that the body thrown into the well prefers water.
After these months on the island, certain mutations
happened to the body: vision
dissipated, muscles became lethargic.
Stars, moon, winds, rivers,
washes all away.