Salvoconducto: I / Adalber Salas Hernández

Safe Passage: I

Caracas, those about to die don’t salute you.

They have no more hands to lift,
they’ve been cut off, they’ve been torn off
by the dogs walking on two legs at night
or they lost them in some sordid wager
cruel as your name.

And they don’t kneel either, those about
to die, this metallic trembling that
cuts through their backs doesn’t let them,
threading their vertebrae, twisting
their gait. A trembling that seems like it’s
brought from the world’s first cold.

They breathe your smoke, your molasses grass
and decomposed meat and burning
lead beneath the sun, that fills
your bronchioles, overwhelms your palate. Ungrateful
smell of garbage trucks and remorseful tar,
Caracas, all these dry mouths are yours.

We leave you childhood hardened
on a few streets, by the taste of bread,
in the first robbery, the first sunrise
hollowed out by gunshots and rain. It’s all yours,
this breath we own, we’re taking it. Those about
to die watch you like undomesticated
beasts and smile at you, toothless.

We don’t salute you, though we live
in your sand, in the dust that made us
now blending into our skin.
We’ve already sifted through your tired, dirty bones,
pruned by blindness. We know you, Caracas.
Each morning, the stone of your laughter
explodes against our forehead. We know your gestures
like a carnivorous mother, we’ve seen
where you bite your own tail.

We don’t salute you and no one even blinks.
No one notices the accumulated rust in
our voices, no one sees in our faces
how we’ve already understood, that regardless
the prose of our days will be abrupt
like your alleys
and the hour of our disappearance
will have the pity of your stray bullets.

{ Adalber Salas Hernández, Salvoconducto, Valencia, España: Pre-Textos, 2015 }

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