University of Oregon
Between the gymnasium and the library
the cemetery lengthens—those who founded
the city sleep there. The moss
creeps over the capital Roman letters
of the British names, and the lichen inside
the precise numbers obstructs
my reading: Died September.
I can decipher that someone lived
28 years, 17 days
in the last century, the XIX.
Hardly a cross, a few cypress trees.
Ivy everywhere. Instantly
the irreverent squirrels run
over the graves. And a few bicycles
on the paths, students
with skateboards and books
under their arms, and the expected
movement of lovers and loners.
I too have crossed this place many times.
Thursday afternoons the students
play a rugby match
on the adjoining field—they finish
happy and exhausted. Everything shows,
through this knowledge that we have
of this world, that one day their magnificent
thighs will rest under the earth.
But an overdose of the future
on any campus and the idea
that the laws of physics don’t have
full validity in this area,
makes me think of the resurrection
with unusual intensity.
It could also be that this fall
I have just turned forty.
Translated by Curtis Bauer
“American Campus” was published in Eros Is More (Alice James Books, 2014).
You can read and listen the poem in the original Spanish here.