I need the sea because it teaches me.
I don’t know if I learn music or awareness,
if it’s a single wave or its vast existence,
or only its harsh voice or its shining
suggestion of fishes and ships.
The fact is that until I fall asleep,
in some magnetic way I move in
the university of the waves.
It’s not simply the shells crunched
as if some shivering planet
were giving signs of its gradual death;
no, I reconstruct the day out of a fragment,
the stalactite from the sliver of salt,
and the great god out of a spoonful.
What it taught me before, I keep. It’s air
ceaseless wind, water and sand.
It seems a small thing for a young man,
to have come here to live with his own fire;
nevertheless, the pulse that rose
and fell in its abyss,
the crackling of the blue cold,
the gradual wearing away of the star,
the soft unfolding of the wave
squandering snow with its foam,
the quiet power out there, sure
as a stone shrine in the depths,
replaced my world in which were growing
stubborn sorrow, gathering oblivion,
and my life changed suddenly:
as I became part of its pure movement.
It is Born
Here I came to the very edge
where nothing at all needs saying,
everything is absorbed through weather and the sea,
and the moon swam back,
its rays all silvered,
and time and again the darkness would be broken
by the crash of a wave,
and every day on the balcony of the sea,
wings open, fire is born,
and everything is blue again like morning.
The First Sea
I discovered the sea. From Carahue
the river Cautín flowed to its estuary
and, in the paddleboats,
dreams and another life began to possess me,
leaving questions in my eyelashes.
A frail child, a bird,
a solitary student or a shadowy fish,
I stood alone in the prow,
from joy, while
the world of the little ship,
unaware of me,
unwound the thread
of the accordions.
The passing visitors
of summer and the water
were eating and singing.
I, in the prow, small, hardly human,
still without mind or voice
transfixed by the movement of the water
flowing between the receding mountains—
mine alone were those solitary places,
mine alone that elemental pathway,
mine alone the universe.
Rapture of the rivers,
banks of thicket and fragrance,
sudden boulders, burnt-out trees,
and land, ample and lonely.
Child of those rivers,
I kept on
traveling the earth
along the same river edges
toward the same sea-foam
and when the sea of that time
crashed down like a broken tower,
rose curling in its rage,
I broke free of my roots.
My country grew in size.
My world of wood split open.
The prison of the forests
opened a green door,
letting in the wave in all its thunder,
and, with the shock of the sea,
my life widened out into space.
Soliloquy in the Waves
Yes, but here I am alone.
perhaps it says its name, I don’t understand,
it mutters, humps in its load
of movement and foam
and withdraws. Who
can I ask what it said to me?
Who among the waves can I name?
And I wait.
Once again the clearness approached,
the soft numbers rose in foam
and I didn’t know what to call them.
So they whispered away,
seeped into the mouth of the sand.
Time obliterated all lips
with the patience
of shadow and
the orange kiss
I stayed alone,
unable to respond to what the world
was obviously offering me,
that richness spreading itself,
the mysterious grapes
of salt, love unknown,
and in the fading day
only a rumor remained,
further away each time,
until everything that was able to
changed itself into silence.
Forget About Me
Among the things the sea throws up,
let us hunt for the most petrified,
violet claws of crabs,
little skulls of dead fish,
smooth syllables of wood,
small countries of mother-of-pearl;
let us look for what the sea undid
what it broke up and abandoned,
and left behind for us.
Petals crimped up,
cotton from the tidewash,
and sweet bones of birds
still in the poise of flight.
The sea washed up its tidewrack,
the air played with the sea-things;
when there was sun, it embraced them,
and time lives close to the sea,
counting and touching what exists.
I know all the algae,
the white eyes of the sand,
the tiny merchandise
of the tides in autumn,
and I walk with the plump pelican,
building its soaking nests,
sponges that worship the wind,
shelves of undersea shadow,
but nothing more moving
than the vestiges of shipwrecks—
the smooth abandoned beams
gnawed by the waves
and disdained by death.
Let us look for secret things
somewhere in the world,
on the blue shore of silence
or where the storm has passed,
rampaging like a train.
There the faint signs are left,
coins of time and water,
debris, celestial ash
and the irreplaceable rapture
of sharing in the labor
of solitude and the sand.