NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 74

By MANUEL ORESTES NIETO Here I was born and here I will die Translated by Miriam Borham Here I was born, in a tiny grain of salt that floated adrift and lodged in the aquamarine placenta of my mother. She was born from the grandmother who, in turn, was made of the scaled skin of those who came from the distant villages on the coasts of Africa. Here I grew, in the clash of the waves against the rocks and the waste of the beaches; amidst the rust of the iron that wounded the purity of the fine sand. With aged wood we built the house and the crosses, the dock of welcomes and goodbyes, our canoes that bore us so far and lasted as long as the time it took for the young warrior to become an old man. I was a dragonfly and flew amid a majestic sea ofmulticoloured butterflies andthe display of crimson, of violet and russet, in the virginal shores of the unharmed beaches was heart-rending. I piled the years hearing the beat of the mounted hearts that still resounds in the drums which are unstitched and dismantled; in the sweating hips of the mothers who opened like flowers giving birth to their children. 72 It was a long time, almost eternity in brine, between the bittersweet poverty of childhood and the long-lived concavity of my bones gnawed by the chewing of the days; by toothless years that no longer bit my soul. BRN-SPRING-2015.indb 72 I will return to the minute cove of my childhood, to the wall against which the sea clashed, to the streets of the ultramarine city where dawns and dusks gushed in the grey of the downpours, to the puddle on the curb and the wooden door. Azure was my vertigo and my fondness; I saw an unrepeatable time go by, with lapis lazuli sparkles, that showered me with immense joys, unbearable losses and devastating absences. I will slowly fall in the brilliance of the water where I swam within the veil of freedom. I will die in the evening unable to see the following dawn; when the pinch of salt that was my origin evaporates, inevitable, solitary, pulverized in errant atoms and defeated in the light; when the last wave that my eyes see is spilled on the beach and starts the undercurrent that will take me like a battered log, acracked snail, a broken fishbone, a humid mummy enveloped in seaweed rags, without a cry, without complaints, with my guts torn to pieces and a crushed heart in a milling of salt water and sweet soil. Wrecked will be the paper boat that as a child I made and lost; but I will not cry as I did then, I will continue to run with the seahorses in the gardens of water, as a second childhood, reviewing the years and collecting the sporadic happiness of innocence. Other children shall arrive, the mothers of other mothers shall come, and this shall also be their sacred homeland. The place where I was born shall forever remain here. This delicate thread of luminescence that entered my pupils at birth and left in death, in this privileged and loving stra nd of earth, between two prodigious oceans. 3/29/15 11:41 AM