When Fear is Dream's Excuse

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Graffiti in Havana, Cuba. Photo by Karim Amar.

 

For A. Arrufat and the narrow parameter in which he dreams

 

Fear of the trite word
incapable of naming purity, everyday chaos,
taunts from another time I thought better
but rotten as well, torn apart.
Fear of fleeing fear,
of being left alone in the hills, tumultuous
     orphan childhood without memory.
Fear of the frost in my eyes when sunset announces itself
fear of mother and her brief existence on this earth,
the absence of light and of mother.
Fear of improbable happiness, a ghost delighting in silences
God fails to protect because everything is supposed to be mine.
Fear of death’s calloused hands
its face staring from mirrors
the mocking mask of its years, its flights and arguments.
Fear of becoming someone else, of that poem where
     I name and leave myself,
of innocence dressed in rags
the dust of a city collapsing in my hands
with neither howls 
laments
nor common sense.

Fear of the morning mist
when autumn leaves fall
and others pretend to be small evasive gods,
from that place where we rest our heads,
the only place that is absolutely free
where night by night we exorcize (as if they belong to us)
every one of our dreams. 

 

Translated by Margaret Randall

Originally published in World Literature Today 89, no. 5 (September 2015).

 

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Number 2

The second issue of Latin American Literature highlights the Caribbean and queer literature from across Latin America, featuring dossiers of revolutionary Chilean writer Pedro Lemebel and Mexican author Yuri Herrera as well as a special section on literary voices from Cuba.

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