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Recorded by Oscar Gonzales, September 27, 2016.

About this poet

Oscar Gonzales was born and raised in Puerto Cortés, Honduras. He moved to the United States as a teenager to attend boarding school, and he received a BA and MA from Yale University. He is the author of Central America in My Heart/Centroamérica en el corazón (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2007). He has also published two poetry collections in Honduras: Amada en el amado transformada (Editorial Guaymuras, 1995) and Donde el plomo flota (Editorial Universitaria, 1994), which received Yale University’s Theron Rockwell Field Prize. Gonzales works as a human rights advocate and social scientist. He lives in Washington, D.C.

We All Return to the Place Where We Were Born

What remains of my childhood
are the fragmentary visions
of large patios
extending
like an oceanic green mist over the afternoon.

Then, crickets would forge in the wind
their deep music of centuries
and the purple fragrances of Grandmother
always would receive without questions
our return home.

The hammock shivering in the breeze
like the trembling voice of light at dusk,
the unforeseeable future
that would never exist without Mother,
the Tall tales that filled
with their most engaging lunar weight our days
—all those unchangeable things—
were the morning constellations
that we would recognize daily without sadness.

In the tropical days we had no intuition of the winter
nor of autumn, that often returns with pain
in the shadows of this new territory
—like the cold moving through our shivering hands—
that I have learned to accept
in the same way you welcome
the uncertainty of a false and cordial smile.

Those were the days of the solstice
when the wind pushed the smoke from the clay ovens
through the zinc kitchens
and the ancient stone stoves
clearly spoke
of the secrets of our barefooted and wise Indian ancestors.

The beautiful, unformed rocks in our hands
that served as detailed toys
seemed to give us the illusion
of fantastic events
that invaded our joyful chants
with infinite color.

It was a life without seasonal pains,
a life without unredeemable time
a life without the somber dark shadows
that have intently translated my life
that slowly move today through my soul.


Todos volvemos al lugar donde nacimos

De mi infancia solo quedan
     las visiones fragmentarias
          de los patios tendidos
               como un naval terciopelo sobre la tarde.
 
 Entonces, los grillos cuajaban sobre el aire
     su profunda música de siglos
          y las fragancias empurpuradas de la abuela
               meciéndose en la noche
                    siempre recibían sin preguntas nuestra vuelta al hogar.

La hamaca temblando con la brisa,
como la voz trémula del sol en el ocaso;
el futuro imprevisible
que jamás existiría sin la madre;
las leyendas
cargadas de su peso lunar más devorador;
—todas esas cosas inalterables—
eran las constelaciones diurnas que reconocíamos sin tristeza.

Entonces no se intuía el invierno,
ni el otoño que retoña con dolor
entre las sombras de este territorio
—como el frío entre las manos doblegadas—
que hoy he aprendido
a soportar
de la misma forma en que se acepta
la incertidumbre de una falsa sonrisa.

Eran los días en que el solsticio
acarreaba humaredas polvorientas
por las ventanas de las cocinas de zinc
donde el fogón de barro milenario
decía oscuramente
el secreto de nuestros ancestros sabios y descalzos.

Las rocas deformes en nuestras manos
     parecían darnos
          la ilusión de eventos fabulosos
               que invadían nuestras gargantas de aromas desmedidos.

Era una vida sin dolores estacionales
     Vida sin tiempos irredimibles:
          Vida sin las puras formas sombrías
               que se resbalan hoy lentamente por mi pecho.

From Central America in My Heart / Centroamérica en el corazón. Copyright © 2007, Bilingual Press / Editorial Bilingüe, Arizona State University.

From Central America in My Heart / Centroamérica en el corazón. Copyright © 2007, Bilingual Press / Editorial Bilingüe, Arizona State University.

Oscar Gonzales

Oscar Gonzales is the author of Central America in My Heart/Centroamérica en el corazón (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2007). He lives in Washington, D.C.

by this poet

poem

On this voyage into the deep communion of solitude
I’ve casually come to know
the old and withered costumes of the sea;

I’ve walked carefully through the colors of copper
when the dusk has already conjured the last prayer of the day;

Through seasonal doorways
I’ve called upon the

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