8 Poems by Gastón Baquero

By | 1 September 2013
By night, on the road to Siberia

All night
I dreamt I was travelling in a large sleigh,
the music in the background, far off, a selection
from the German Dances of Beethoven.

The dogs with their inevitable dusty white fur,
covered in small bells and red straps,
barked with such harmony the snow,
wanting to listen more, slowed down
as it fell.

We were travelling to a secret place in Siberia,
a place erased from the map, set aside
to hold the most hated prisoners.

My one and only delight consisted in reciting Mallarmé aloud
while comrade Stalin read in a monotone voice
his annual Report to the Party: when he said factory
I would say “Apparition”; when he spoke of the East
I would say quite loudly “tonight Idumea, tonight Idumea!”
And in those moments when he recited the numbers 
of tanks, cannons and tractors,
I would say: “Snowing white clusters of perfumed stars”.

Suddenly the tyrant thrust aside his papers,
unhooked from the wall a short whip with six tails,
and, rhythmically, began to lash my legs and arms,
while screaming (with a refined intonation, I admit it)
“Take that for poetry! Take that for decadence! Take that for putrefied Europe!”
Then he fixed his grey-green eyes on Beria and said nothing,
just a picaresque wink from his left eyelid, that was his language,
his demure code as Lord of everyone’s Life to tell the other:
“Send him to Siberia for me, till I give further advice”.

And in the big sleigh we went travelling across the night at a gallop,
hounded by the German Dances yet filled with joy:
unhurriedly we drank the horizon in paradisiac sips
as if it was a small glass of Marie Brizard 
sipped after eating chocolate pralines:
we travelled content, hounded and set upon 
by music not by dogs,
plunging into the most beautiful dance, not a prison.
No one was weeping.
We hummed along to the rhythm of sleighbells. It was as if
we were on our way to find Erika, Catalina, Alejandra Feodorovna, 
to drown them in the river of the waltz, by the brown Danube, 
one Sunday afternoon,
plaiting their hair full of violets.


On waking I told myself I must go this very day to the psychiatrist,
this dream seems highly complicated, maybe even immoral.
It may well announce that I’m about to slip through the walls of masochism.

I came into the psychiatrist’s office: I thought I knew him,
but it was the first time in my life I’d seen him.
He said to me in a voice void of all personality:
“What brings you here, convict twelve thousand five hundred and thirty six?”
And, as I explained about the dream so crowded with dogs, snow, dances,
whips, sleighbells, with the joyful terror
of reaching the edges of Siberia,
he spoke once more: “You are cured now,
now you have no more problems,
convict twelve thousand five hundred and thirty six;
last night you reached Siberia,
around thirty six minutes past twelve:
you dreamed nothing: you were a prisoner
and you will die in prison. What you dreamed was your life.
Now prepare yourself to live forever dreaming continuously 
that you travel towards there,
that you’re returning in a large sleigh, dragged by dogs with dusty white fur,
racing joyously through the snow, under the incessant whipping
of the German Dances of Beethoven.”

Fullness of the Apple The red sea, the green sky, and snow imprisoned by lashings of sun under that brilliant purple, produce the apple. I would like to know precisely the millennia, the number of finished aeons that work together to transform an apple into pulp and perfume. From here came the model of pubescent cheeks, from here the broken seal of love, and the orgy of sleeping face to face with the constellations under a tree of apples. I imagine these red embers hanging from its branches as signs, a summons to the distant men of Saturn, for they all are there in the fullness of an apple.
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