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Month: October 2011

a-ris-to-ter

Mines ahead, behind, to the left, to the right. Mines inside us. Mines in our sleepy, exhausted eyes, trembling and worried, trying to stay awake. Seeking out objects of death whose characteristic is that of never being seen—they wait their entire life and are born only for a second to die with you.

Move by day. Move by night. Eat cornmeal or eat nothing. Save the last can. Boil tea gathered from bushes. Cook in black pots in the earth plowed by tires. Eat the last can. Eat with your hands from flaking enamel plates. Fantasize about fresh water. Salivate salt. Shiver from the cold an hour after the moon rises. Suffocate from the heat an hour after the sun rises.Dream about a bed.Wake up with rats.Go to sleep with fear.

Disdain tears.

Avoid dogs.

Defecate in front of others. Bathe in the river, swim during the crocodiles’ siesta, keep away from snakes, dry your body with your hands, extract the shudders from your bones, cover your skin with filthy clothes. Vomit your own smell. Sleep in the open air, sleep on the alert, in transit, in abandoned houses, on mattresses of straw and lice, on blankets with holes and mange. Listen to the wind beneath the divan. Listen to the sound of leaves laughing as they scrape the cement on the ground.

DANGER MINES. Do not touch anything, tread on existing tracks, walk backward retracing your steps, the same steps, exactly, or —

On short breaks in the True North, I eat books. While in this imaginary world I slip in and out of others, good ones and bad ones, slogging through the dull and lapping up the delicious. I met the author of this one before I knew the words were his. Read them in our native Portuguese first, Baía dos Tigres, conversed in our adopted French, but reading an excellent English translation has brought it to life anew. It, as in death taste, death smell, mortality, but sinewy and vivid and locomotive. This is non-fiction.

“The problem is basically a political one… You say you’re on a journey, but there are various kinds of journeys, as you know. Is it to gather information?”

“No. It’s to meet people.”

“But you’re a journalist. People give information. A journalist investigates. You’re on an investigation.”

“No, I’m on a trip. That’s different. Working on my own. People tell stories. I’ve already said I’m not here for my newspaper. I’m not even interested in the peace process.”

“But later you’re going to write about this and make good money; it’s always like that with foreigners.”

I’m still so inspired and grateful, friend. I had to share.