El musulmán / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

The Muslim

     The mosque had tumbled to the ground during the extermination of the faithful.

     The blond pirates had mutilated its towers and covered over the decorative letters where the name of the prophet could be read with stucco. They mocked the filigree conceived and realized by our ancestors in a series of enthusiastic centuries.

     The muezzins, humiliating their foreheads in the dust, announced the cloud of bloodthirsty falcons.

     They arrived after a voyage of six months, lucid and with their skin peeling from the scorching heat of the torrid seas. The wind was dividing into whistles as it ran between the tense sails. The cabin boys were blowing the sirens, hanging from the masts with agility.

     We didn’t dare fight them on the coast, choosing rather a clearing with easy access for our cavalry. We were utterly slaughtered. Our heroes had mad faith in a spectacular battle, of steel crossed in singular combat. The flame of the iron wits vanquished the frank resolve and matted the floor with the victims and plunder of a

     My older brother was left among the prisoners and suffered a sad fate.

     The victors chose him as a target for their pistols. His corpse, hung from its feet, rotted for several days amidst a swarm of crepuscular jackals. He had dared, despite his manacles, to challenge a principal chief.

     I discreetly visited the mosque of our devotion, before departing from my captive soil, and I rescued my brother’s relics, paying the victor for them with the present of a few antique arms and a sumptuous quilt. The muslin, elastic and transparent, would pass through a needle without crumpling.

     I chose for my exile the home of a neighboring town. A voluble plant, captive of our jungles, weaves itself around a dry tree and adorns it with its scarlet flowers. I brought it with me to keep in memory of my house.

     I requested service in a flotilla of pearl fishermen and I traverse a crystalline gulf.

Las formas del fuego (1929)

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

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