MY COUNTRY IN AN ANCIENT MAP
The cartographer’s lines never lied, tracing
his dream for us. Certainly many
river channels were fabled, and our mountains
don’t stretch such to the south, nor does
the sea brush against them, though it tries
with its hopeful outlines. The size of the islands
is something else in the swell of his colors.
And yet the innocent glow of astonished eyes
was always precise under the brilliance of palms.
So what if the Orinoco extends like desire
farther north, or if this cape is misplaced,
with its face of a woman seeming almost to speak?
They never lied: here stood Manoa
at the end of the rainbow that rose from Dorado,
and farther off, from a paradise whose infinite
innocence made all its vessels’ journeys worthwhile.
What other truth might we extract?
The maps were graceful love letters,
sailors’ tattoos, unstained pages that tell us
life is eternal only on this lip of the Atlantic.
Translated from the Spanish by Kirk Nesset