Diario de Cristóbal Colón — Octubre 1493
The Indians whispered Guanahani in the evening,
but we baptized her green mountains
Santa Maria by dawn. With a flask of myrrh and a dash of silver,
silk warmed naked arms.
Never have they harvested beneath the black cough of an arquebus.
“Thunder” they called us; whites in their eyes taut like sails.
Three or four towns shall be erected,
with sheet steel plates for priests
and apostles for mayors—the King’s flag shall fly
upon the golden glare of notary stamps. None shall
collect without license, none shall collect without God.
All shall conceive their affection,
until the drought
of our language dies.
Most mornings there are no words.
Most mornings none.
Only the echo of heaven’s wind
on our tongues, but no Spirit to give us utterance.
We taste transparent flames, the spices and fruits for
which we have no names. Savor the bitterness of
ausencia while we sever wrists.
And the boiled soles are empty,
the marrow hollow as it drips.
We, too, shall conquer language.
This, the year of our Lord, 1493.