El guía / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

The Guide

     We were succumbing to thirst in the warm territory. A breath of fire was rising from the reverberating sands, belt of a salty lake.

     One of our own threw a stone into a bitumen pit and provoked a fire and successive stampedes.

     We were searching the domicile of the true race of Iranians, under the direction of an indifferent guide.

     We had to climb a limestone mountain and take shelter in a city of mountain runners, destroyed by earthquakes.

     The horses were dying from eating a trailing wormwood or from the venom of scorpions.

     We didn’t see any signs of habitation in that journey, only the relics of campaign pavilions and other ephemeral dwellings. The chalky and monotonous place had sickened with tedium, twenty years earlier, a colony of exiles.

     The hardened hunters of the city isolated in the volcanic zone abstained from bothering us. They wore wide pants, gathered at the bottom in spats, and at their waists they displayed a disquieting arsenal.

     They lived in the present, limiting, stoic or covetous, all necessities. The spirited mood and rudimentary judgment suggested the temperament of birds of prey.

     The taciturn guide, enemy of jubilation, retreated from us with a warning of the day’s end.

     We immediately heard the welcome in the song of Ferdowsi’s nightingales.

Las formas del fuego (1929)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

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