Tomorrow Triumphant

EXILE
1.
My exile was made of weeping.

The ceaseless grey glare of police
on my insufficient face.
The inns of hunger beyond the handful
of dollars that rape countries.
The bags packed every month,
ready to wrap up the exodus
of tears and dust.

I walked foreign shores
in search of my country’s face.
Dawns of sea gulls followed me.
I received brutal embraces
from persons discovers a cataclysm of roses
in the most hidden corner of their soul,
grasping hands-shakes in the nights
of escape, where the streaming stare
of our mother always glowed,
her ageless tree-like dimension,
branches up,
defending the city of birds
from the endless assault of water.

I was a tear of my country
rolling down the face of America.

Because I am one of those
who still
carry maternal winds,
in every drop of blood.
One of those who cry out swallows
when dreaming up the face of their childhood.
One of those who run after agile butterflies.
And who sail their paper boat
every winter afternoon.
I am just the young tide
of my people.
And yet I say:
Tomorrow my long hair
of fish
will turn white.
My face will be wiped out
by hands of fog.
The eyes of my bones
will be lost in a wind
of ash.
But my heart
will be brave as a soldier
with flags flying high.

II

You, salesmen of my country,
listen:
Have you heard the land walk
beyond your blood?
Did you ever wake up
crying from the pounding of its heart?
Sitting at a café in a far off land
one winter day
have you listened to men speaking
of their struggle?
Have you seen the moribund exile,
in a dirty room, sprawled
on a bed of planks,
asking for the vague height
of his children on leave from his love?
Have you heard laughter weep?
Have you once cried on the high belly
of our country?  Have you been victim
of that stupid accusation:
communist! because you were no part
of the sheep herd worshipping the despot?
Have you watched as the sweet seamstress
planted a tender kiss on the oily cheek
of her prince the mechanic?
Have you pressed the calloused hand
of the workers who are building
the world’s collective destiny?
Have you seen poor children laugh
with the beautiful optimism of their childhood?

Salesmen of my sunny country, your silence
is greater than all your cash.

And you, the indifferent, what do you say?
Silence!
Don’t answer.
Don’t open your mouths
if you can’t
answer in protest.

One last painful question for all:
Do you even know what exile is?
Surely you’ll know it!
I’ll tell you:
exile
is a long long avenue
where only sadness walks.
In exile every day
is called simply: agony.

And one more thing, salesmen and indifferent ones
of my country.  In exile you can lose
your heart, but if you don’t
then never
be able to kill its tenderness
nor the life-giving strength of its storms.

  • trans. Francisco X. Alarcón