Canciones de Los Viejos

by David E. Cowen

Hijo del mundo
why do you salt the earth
with the clouds of your eyes

Por que hijo, por que

El ceilo estan azul y amarillo
with your hair
splashed against the canvas
like spilled paint

your brothers play on the white sand,
apples freshly fallen from a brine tree,
the kiss of the tide
cooling their wrinkling foreheads
as they dig into the heat
shoring up the crumbling sides of their castles
con la leche del mar.

your tears make the soil
grow barren

the cracked earth is a childless woman
crying to the sun
her sunken breasts pink and peeling

when the rains come, mujera,
you will no longer lay fallow;
la promesa de los dios

but the post-deluvian soil
is washed infertile in the dried foam
left from the deluge's crest;
the old woman wimpering
in the broken clay;
mis hijos, mis hijos
she whispers in her lament

we dance,
la bailar de los muertos,
clinging to the ivory of our fingers
like children again,
singing to the old ones, los viejos,
sitting in their thrones of straw and splitting pine,
smiling, smiling
the entire burden of their lives
resolved in a smile

I saw an eagle devouring a snake;
the rush of his feathers
the only hint of his attack,
lifting the spitting viper with his beak,
tearing its scaled belly
and twisting broken its spine
with talons of iron flesh

the blood of the serpent
dripping in small pools on the hard ground,
springing forth the life of the Virgin's Rose

A child is aware of the triviality of time
waiting for the hair of his loins to grow
it is the old ones who put coins into clicking meters
hoping to delay the chimes of desolation
vanquishing them to the world of faded memory

time moves so slow, hovering,
its dark, round eyes searching the ground
for the squirming earth,
its hooked beak like a guide
setting its steady course downward to its prey

I walk along the shore,
my white shoes brown
from the mist of tide
I dare not go further
It is enough to wet my feet
and feel the grit between my toes,
the path behind, indented with my prints, vanishing,
absolving me of my birth-sins
and those of my fathers

Vamonos, hijo, vamonos,
the offspring of the foam call to me,
No puede, No puede, I return
pulling away from the tideline.

Tengo consado,
mas de todo del mundo,
mas de hoy,
mas de manana;
el consado de los ninos de sangue,
el consado de las hermanas del muertes;

sweet child, hold my shaking hand,
which clinks the chipped cups of amber tea
rattling in its saucer,
I am again an infant teething with my rattle
the solace of my sucking on the hard plastic
my only substitute for my mother's lost nipples

Pity poor Lazarus,
awakened so rudely;
was he fearful of that sleep
so as to hide from his summoner's tree;
did he weep as the sky darkened
and the crowned bleeder stared at the sky
only to find himself alone
in his pain;
did he go back to his sisters
indulging in their attention and wine,
forsaking the breath of his life.

In my youth, I saw a two-headed calf.
Anxious over the flyers announcing its arrival
I pulled my mother downtown
and stood in line, with the smell of beer and calf's urine
soaking the ground,
into a tent of sheets where it stood
covered in its own saliva,
tied at the neck with a brown rope,
its multifacial head divided in the center,
its dark eyes blinded by a single white light
anchored on a crossbeam on the structure.
I touched its damp fur and shuddered,
disgusted yet satisfied
that I had seen a marvel of the world.

Canta, hijo, canta;
for the old ones,
waiting their turn at the steppes
to resuckle their mothers' breasts

Canta, hijo, canta,
for the young ones,
who marvel at two-headed calves,
who shudder at the brown spotted skin
of their dying elders,
who dance in their costumes of mockery
against the enforcer of the dust;

Canta otro mas,
a mis padres
who wore down their hands and hearts
on the hard soil,
so that you can sit on the soft chair
eating chocolates and dream of the sea air;

Sing to me child,
soothing the restlessness
of my pocket watch
chiming another hour;
soothing the fever of fear
rising in my forehead,
as the sun,
exhausted from its battle
with the moon,
begins to succumb
to the coolness
of the dusk.

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