(after Roberto Bolaño’s “A Stroll Through Literature”)

1. I dream of blood that wells from a cut, uncoils its wavelengths of sequestered light, turns more solid than the furniture in my house.

2. In my dream it is Lent, just like it is right now. Guardia civil are herding babaylanes into yellow Humvees. Their bandannas, knotted under the chin, catch the glow of sunset. The vehicles rev up and head toward the hills. When the dust settles, the townsfolk find they cannot erase the ancient writing that has formed beneath tire tracks. It becomes their new epic poem. They will read it every year. Movie producers will come to film it.

3. In my dream it is still Lent. Which can mean any of a number of things: penitents stripped to the waist, their heads wrapped in sack-cloth, their brows circled with crude vines or barbed wire. Their backs: red labyrinths, ladders gorged with flame.

4. In another dream all the lilies have open vestments. The children come to gather pollen in their cups. Every eyelid will be streaked with gold, every finger outlined with knowing.

5. I dream that in the ruined chapel, above carpets of moss, a cherub ziplines toward me from the belfry. When was the last time you washed your face? I ask my soul. It likes to play in the mud, where it is cool. It hangs its head to one side; it doesn’t like to brush its hair.

6. Donde? Aqui, aqui.

7. In this dream, I knock on the door of room after room until I come to the one where Prinsipe Florante is lashed to a tree, bemoaning his fate. If I turn the right combination of locks hidden in the leaves, we will understand each other perfectly, in monorhyming quatrains filled with lyric and metaphor. And the lion will slink back into the darkness from which it came.

8. In this dream I gently cover the woman’s mouth with my hand, lead her into a room which has temporarily been stripped of all reminders of her sons; I bathe her fevered brow with water. If you lived her story, you too would be crazed. Later in the night, the oil lamp that should have ignited the revolution the first time, will burn down the governor’s house.

9. In this dream it is many years since you have touched me. By this I mean the premises have fallen silent. Sometimes it is not a dream.

10. The poet leaves: she is outcast from her hometown. Does she drink? Chew betel nut leaf? Swear like a cargador at the pier? Gamble away her children’s inheritance? Smoke cigars with the lit end in her mouth? Take lovers, including her maid? Wear only pants? Burn her bra? You have no imagination if you think this is all it takes to be a poet.


In response to small stone (71).

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