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Runaway Country

¡Argentina,
Little green branch afire!
-Ricardo E. Molinari



LIGHT


Fire?
No: light.


Flame?
No: light.


Light?
Yes: this light.


Light like this?
No: like smoke
from humid candles
feeble putrid light
like fog that licks the contours
and erases them.


Light like this?
No: a gnawing
impedes distinction between
the day that is extinguished
and the night that never quite closes
over the world.


Black light?
Not even that: barely a shudder
braying of a star
exiled
from the furthest galaxy
of this oblivion.


Light how?
Milky pus of moon
burst
in alibour water
where only that which is broken
reflects an image.


Light for what?
Frightful light
that doesn't illuminate blind
battered firefly
leaving all that
steeped in shade.


Light from what?
From mud and rags
I mean: from the flesh
of a camel
in the circus
in the provinces.


What light?
Like one that
after traversing
a corpse
filters through the air
the diseased failure to illuminate.


Yes? Light?
Yes: diffuse
deaf glare of the sun
ragged
evil
light.


FLESH


Flesh
there is
flesh.


From what?
Flesh of itself
flesh of flesh.


But, from what?
From the provinces
from the countryside
loose flesh.


Raw or what?
Green
very green
licked
by mold and
crushed
by blows.


From what?
From flesh of
its flesh
that
now
is no longer.


But, from what?
From animals
lost
sullied
maybe
cows.


Cows from what?
From those that
once
belonged to others
and today
barely.


What?
Flayed
cattle
green flesh
battered
rank
with greedy
flies.


In what?
Splinters
or worms
in that flesh
alive
yes but
impossible.


Cattle what?
Between stones
dry plants rusted
cans
flesh from cows
loose
distracted.


Standing?
From lost
war
from frayed rags
from oblivion
that is embodied
in that old
flesh
which
like the
dog in the manger
neither eats
nor
in the end
is eaten.


WATER


Is there water there?
In the country
they dream of seeing the sea
its terraced jewel
unique
its nightdress open
its slip.


Is there water?
But resign yourself
to thinking of it
distant
deaf
inconceivable
alien.


Water water? Is there? Water?
In the country's sweep of scrub brush
there is too much
but it is quiet
dead
sluggish
sweat of the earth that tires
never reaching the shore.


I want to go to the water. Can I go to the water?
It is poisoned broth
it is dead weight that doesn't wash
it is mud it is scum
it is latrine juice
thick litany
that doesn't drain
it is false water.


Water I want water. Will they give me water?
It filters between the stones
it tarnishes the grimy lime
of the facades
it doesn't flow it doesn't circulate
it infects the wounds
it strips the wood
it recoils
making itself
a ditch.


Is there water yet? Is it cold? Water?
It soaks the deposits
of cloth
of paper
of food
it installs itself in the baseboards
it fuses onto moods
a green sediment
a hemorrhage
dry
lost in the pocket
of a retiree's trousers.


Will there be? Will it come? Will we have water?
At the fleshy base
of a nurse's thumb
it is an old blister
that on bursting
drips silently
wetting and rewetting
a single dead spot
of the poorest hospital
of the shanty town.


Water? Little water? Water?
It rusts, loosens, smokes:
with a dwarfish fury
it encysts the tiles
it seeps into the drawers
it puddles it forms
a crust
rotting the bones
of the tenor
of the little country woman
from the folk poem
rotting the breasts.


Water? Do we have it yet? Did the water come back?
Disease of the air,
error of some blind cloud,
stupor of the Paraná, fetid froth
of the Uruguay, stinking little puddle
of the diseased Pilcomayo:
across the whole astonishing valley
not even a drop to calm the thirst
nor baptize the ass of a nun
barely
water that you are not to drink
and that doesn't flow away:
it's sluggish
it's stubborn
thick
dirty
sick
stagnant water.


DITCH


Here no more.


Here nothing
is lost anymore
nothing
because
nothing
remains.


It beats itself.


The mere sound
beats itself.
The mute
cry
of silence
disrupts
the air,
which never
resigns itself
to the tunnel
of absences.


Here no more.
Here there are
no longer any
fathers,
or mothers,
or children.
Only the ditch
thick,
dark,
blind
where children don't
float
the children
of the parents,
the parents
of those
other
children.


Here is everything.


Here everything
is
bastard,
still,
deaf,
but not
dead.
Here that nothingness.


Here that
insipid
nothingness
where
those
parents
and those
children
are parted
it exudes
a death rattle,
spasm
that on
earth
allows neither
rest
nor
disgrace.


Come in and see.


Listen to
what
crawls,
that which
has yet
to achieve the
muddled
condition
of loneliness,
but which
persists
in being
here
the mark
of
scum,
the dry,
sluttish
saliva
of oblivion.


Like that which.


Like that
alien
wound
that will never
stop
being
a stubborn
condemnation.


First published as "Pais en Fuga" in La Voz Inutil (Buenos Aires: Bajo la Luna, 2003). Copyright 2003 by Guillermo Saavedra. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2007 by Katie King. All rights reserved.