The White Body in the Heart of the Desert

(El Cuerpo Blanco al Fondo del Desierto)
by Homero Aridjis

for J.M.G. Le Clézio

All we saw at first was a white dot
way out in the heart of the desert:
doubtless some dead body
sprawled there in the distance,
a heat shimmer above the sand,
or a trick of the vision, so ready
to believe in anything
but its own shadow.

Then we saw that this body
had an open door:
doubtless some object
fallen from an imaginary space,
a metal bird
with broken wings,
an unserviceable treasure
in the sweltering day.

When we got close, we discovered
that white dot
in the heart of the desert
was a refrigerator
with an open door.


I wanted to submit something to the first edition of the desert-focused blog carnival that Chris Clarke just started, the Carnival of the Arid, but I don’t know much about deserts, so I found this poem to translate instead. Homero Aridjis — whose last name contains the word “arid” — is one of Latin America’s foremost conservationists, in addition to being a widely published poet. He was born and grew up in Michoacán, Mexico, right near the famous over-wintering site for the eastern monarch butterfly population.