The Return Journey


My life was a geography
I surveyed over and over again,
a book of maps or dreams.
In America I awakened.

Were these perhaps dreams of rivers and towns?
Was there nothing real about these countries?
Are there three steps in my journey:
dreaming, waking, and dying?

I’ve fallen asleep among statues
and upon waking found myself alone.
Where are the benevolent shadows?
Did I love and in truth was I loved?

It was a geography of dream,
a magical history.
I know by memory the islands and faces
visited or, perhaps, dreamed.

Upon the spoils of the universe
– fruit, woman, the immensity –
fell all of my inebriated senses,
like drunken pirates of the sea.

At last I found in harbor,
a naked girl, perfectly shaped:
in her great, tremulous water
I quenched my human thirst.

Later came the maiden of wheat,
the vegetal virgin;
but, always, from each door
the eternal Other called me.

From snow to palm tree
I saw cities of the earth
where God had cleaned the windows
and no one wanted to die.

I saw the arid earth of the bull
– last refuge of blue –
and a country where pine trees
raised their green obelisks to the light.

Did I dream this face on the wall,
that hand upon my skin?
This street of apples
and doves, did I dream it all?

The harbor like equal sections
of a crystal watermelon,
and islands like seeds:
was this a dream and nothing more?

Is this dust the mortal ash
that still clings to my feet?
Were they not harbors but years,
those places I anchored in?

Only in the most distinct languages
did I become fluent in solitude
and graduated as a doctor of dreams.
I came to America to awake.

Again, in my throat burns
the thirst to live, the thirst to die,
and so I humbly bend down
to this earth of maize.

Land of fruit and tombs,
sole property of the sun:
I come from the world – O great dream! –
with a map scrolled in my voice.

-Jorge Carrera Andrade