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        COAL

I see a swift river shine like a knife, splitting
my town of Lebú in two fragrant parts, I listen
to it, smell it, touch it, run its length in a child's kiss,
as when the wind and rain swung me, I feel it
like another artery between my temple and the pillow.

It's him. It's raining.
it's him. My father's arriving soaked. The smell
of a wet horse. It's Juan Antonio
Rojas crossing a river on horseback.
No news. The torrential night collapses
like a flooded mine, lightning makes it shiver.

Mother, he's coming home: let's open the door,
give me that lamp, I want to greet him
before my brothers. Let me bring him a good cup of wine
so he can relax, and clasp me in a kiss,
and stick me with the thorns of beard.

Here comes the man, here he comes
muddy, furious against misfortune, raging
against exploitation, dying of hunger,
here he comes in his Spanish poncho.

Ah, immortal miner, this is your house
of oak, that you built yourself. Come in:
I am your seventh son. I've come
to wait for you. It doesn't matter
that so many stars have gone through the sky of these years,
that we buried your wife in a terrible winter,
for you and she are multiplied. It
doesn't matter that the night has been as dark
for us as for the two of you.
—Come in, don't stand there
looking at me, without seeing me, under the rain.

autógrafo
Gonzalo Rojas
Translated by John Oliver Simon


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Contra la muerte (1964)
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