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The bus advances along the route
lighting up anything black on the way,
tilting trees that climb
their black trunks,
palm trees stirred by the wind
of a tropical cadence.
I'm riding along the roads of Corrientes Province
and I'm traveling through Entre Rios, the birthplace
of so many favorite poets, like Juanele,
Mastronardi, El Zela and Daniel Durand.
I want to talk to the girl who's sitting next to me
but I keep quiet, I look out the windows
at the black, overgrown landscape,
and I hear a monkey shrieking
his form of goodbye.
If indeed some questions
it's now too tedious to ask again
were the reason for my trip,
I harbor no resentment, nor disgust,
but rather gratitude:
behind the first few rows of ranches I make out
the sight of gauchos telling their incredible
stories around the dying embers of an asado.
I see a sheet of sandwiched insects
plastered against the glass, and a
black butterfly with two skulls on its wings
and a tiny head composed of dead eyes.
A midget with mirrored sunglasses walks down the aisle
with a big bag of potato chips under his arm,
jumps over someone to get to his seat
and then starts to chomp away at his chips
while he reads the sports section.
We pass by a service station,
hookers on the side of the road
make gestures at the cars.
I see palos borrachos, the sign for a tire shop,
and the inside of a diner where thousands
of insects swarm fluorescent bulbs.
Orange, green, yellow, blue, silver:
these are the colors silhouetted
against the black of the air.
Above it all the moon
is nodding off until daybreak
like those beggars who wander through the night,
waiting for morning to catch some sleep,
guarding against attacks
from other, more vicious beggars
who might rob them or rape them without qualm.
Night is a sanction against everyone.
The girl in the seat next to me fell asleep
and as I watch her eyelids twitch
I start to imagine what she might be dreaming.
She's headed to Santa Fe to see her father
who's in the hospital and not doing well.
She told me that she started way up in the north of Brazil
and since she doesn't have money for a plane ticket
she still has a long journey ahead of her.
I am traveling out of boredom and feel a little frivolous
talking to her about it. I think about her father,
about my father, about my friends' fathers
and I remember Fabián and his sister,
their father was very old,
he was the caretaker of a country estate
where there was a windmill
whose sails Fabián shot at with an air rifle.
Our fathers were like machines covered
in dust, birthed from the depths of a barn,
no one knew what purpose they served;
or like the locomotive whose black length
vanished along a curve in the rails as I
watched from the road, to appear
again beside a warehouse, its single light
blinking, calling out from under the
roof of the depot. Our fathers were like
those preparators who initiated themselves
into the mysteries while trying to take apart
Duchamp's tear-stained Large Glass.
But did any of us truly have fathers
that night? The midget who whose jaws crushed
fistfuls of potato chips a while ago,
was he a father? I thought he was.
And while I watched him we passed
through the first palm groves crawling with jaguars,
approaching the pink mist of the Paraguay
which was like a chain sinking below
the rushing surface of its forking waters
to be reborn as rivers everywhere.
There was a grave hidden by fronds,
a cross of two sticks tied together with string.
I saw it one second and forgot it the next.
Every journey is taken toward the past.
The bats who fly against the wind are aware of this
as they click their short wings.
I fall asleep studying the bright stars,
each one so close to the next they're like
the houses of a province seen from a helicopter.
In Entre Ríos my friends were waiting for me
with their girlfriends and they promised
they'd find me a girlfriend too.
They were the foot soldiers of the new poetry.
And after the last bars were shuttered
we would wander through the empty streets,
crossing Parque Urquiza in the direction of the river
and we would swim and stare at the sky
and watch pine trees grow on the moon.
(traducción Stuart Krimko)