Agha Shahid Ali
I See Chile in My Rearview Mirror
This dream of water-what does it harbor?
I see Argentina and Paraguay
under a curfew of glass, their colors
breaking, like oil. The night in Uruguay
is black salt. I'm driving toward Utah,
keeping the entire hemisphere in view-
Colombia vermilion, Brazil blue tar,
some countries wiped clean of color: Peru
is titanium white. And always oceans
that hide in mirrors: when beveled edges
arrest tides or this world's destinations
forsake ships. There's Sedona, Nogales
far behind. Once I went through a mirror-
from there too the world, so intact, resembled
only itself. When I returned I tore
the skin off the glass. The sea was unsealed
by dark, and I saw ships sink off the coast
of a wounded republic. Now from a blur
of tanks in Santiago, a white horse
gallops, riderless, chased by drunk soldiers
in a jeep; they're firing into the moon.
And as I keep driving in the desert,
someone is running to catch the last bus, men
hanging on to its sides. And he's missed it.
He is running again; crescents of steel
fall from the sky. And here the rocks
are under fog, the cedars a temple,
Sedona carved by the wind into gods-
each shadow their worshiper. The siren
empties Santiago; he watches
-from a hush of windows-blindfolded men
blurred in gleaming vans. The horse vanishes
into a dream. I'm passing skeletal
figures carved in 700 B.C.
Whoever deciphers these canyon walls
remains forsaken, alone with history,
no harbor for his dream. And what else will
this mirror now reason, filled with water?
I see Peru without rain, Brazil
without forests-and here in Utah a dagger
of sunlight: it's splitting-it's the summer
solstice-the quartz center of a spiral.
Did the Anasazi know the darker
answer also-given now in crystal
by the mirrored continent? The solstice,
but of winter? A beam stabs the window,
diamonds him, a funeral in his eyes.
In the lit stadium of Santiago,
this is the shortest day. He's taken there.
Those about to die are looking at him,
his eyes the ledger of the disappeared.
What will the mirror try now? I'm driving,
still north, always followed by that country,
its floors ice, its citizens so lovesick
that the ground-sheer glass-of every city
is torn up. They demand the republic
give back, jeweled, their every reflection.
They dig till dawn but find only corpses.
He has returned to this dream for his bones.
The waters darken. The continent vanishes.
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (I See Chile in My Rearview Mirror by Agha Shahid Ali )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
Henry David Thoreau
(12 July 1817 – 6 May 1862)
Poem of the Day
- Not necessarily, hasmukh amathalal
- I embrace my pen, gajanan mishra
- Loveless Love, Paul Hartal
- But vicinty, hasmukh amathalal
- Past Writing, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
- Still Small Voice, Leong Ming Loong
- Gap and divide, hasmukh amathalal
- Love Is Hard, Is It Poetry
- Mulugkhw..., Swrji Basumatary
- Being Entertained By Nature, RoseAnn V. Shawiak