Adalber Salas Hernández, From Salvoconducto (Safe Passage).

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Adalber Salas Hernández
From Salvoconducto (Safe Passage). Valencia, Pre-textos, 2015.

XXX
(Letter from Jamaica)

tr. Guillermo Parra

I, Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad
Bolívar y Ponte Palacios y Blanco. I
king of Thebes.
………………..My dear sir:
I address your majesty from the cursed circumstance of
water everywhere, from the tenuous heart of life they
call exile. I do so, for I wish to speak with you
regarding that pile of ashes and sand that gave birth
to me, that land intoxicated by so much sun, dazzled
by its hunger for history. I know it well: I have travelled
…..widely in my time,
but never have I, truly, crossed the borders of Venezuela.
Each word I pronounce ties my feet to it,
cuts through my mouth with an amniotic taste. That’s why
I know, observing it from these strange shores, I’ve
failed in trying to liberate it. I must confess to your majesty.
I have sowed the sea, planted wind. I have failed, I
swear by the god of my parents. It has cost me so much to
……understand
that my country is a geographical error. A banal promise, a
paradise invented by the deaf. A mess of cords and
…..tendons,
a jumble of flesh and wood. The cradle of debris,
…..of plagiarism,
a strip of dust fascinated by the movements of the sea,
…..the
animal that can’t stand still because it will die of thirst.
…..Your majesty
can glance at the map: an arbitrary cumulus of restless
…..lines and veins,
of badly-sewn patches. Truly I say to you: an eye will pass
through a camel’s needle, before my land goes through the
…..doors of heaven.
Païs, pays, pàis, paîs — no spelling can sustain my country.
It’s not a homeland; it’s a wager we’ve lost.
………………………………As you can see, I don’t lie;
I’m an honest man, from where the palm tree grows.
I come from a region
whose nature opposes everything, whose god is a
…..glorified
gravedigger. I don’t want to see my face carved in its
…..coins, in
those flaccid metals that buy nothing, that weigh down
pockets like a clumsy organ. I don’t want my name in
…..the mouth
of its soldiers, on its shield, in the puerile cadence of its
…..anthem.
I don’t want my memory stained by all the nervous gestures
it will make to convince itself it is a nation.
I will climb into the sepulcher far from there. A tree will grow
…..from my chest,
filling my lungs with gunpowder and roots. I refuse to keep
…..fighting for the
land whose only merit has been to leave my hands dirty
…..from childhood.

……………………Yours,

Adalber Salas Hernández (Caracas, 1987) is a poet, essayist and translator. Salas Hernández is the author of several books of poems: La arena, el vidrio: ascenso en tres movimientos (2008), Extranjero (2010; 2012), Suturas (2011), Heredar la tierra (2013), Salvoconducto (2015, winner of the XXXVI Arcipreste de Hita Prize), Río en blanco (2016) and mínimos (2016). He also has published Insomnios. Ensayos sobre poesía venezolana, a volume of essays on Venezuelan poetry. He has published translations of Marguerite Duras, Antonin Artaud, Charles Wright, Mário de Andrade, among others. In colaboration with Alejandro Sebastiani Verlezza, he is responsible for the volume Poetas venezolanos contemporáneos. Tramas cruzadas, destinos comunes, an anthology of contemporary Venezuelan poetry. He currently works as Co-Director of the publishing house Bid&co. Editor, and as an editor in POESIA, a literary magazine published at Carabobo University. He currently works on his PhD degree in Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature at New York University.