Gaston Baquero
translated by Greg Simon & Steven F. White
The River

for Josè Olivio Jimènez


I've spent sixty years on the banks of a river.
Only those who are living there can see it.
People heading toward the western market
looked at us with fear. They don't understand
why the dampness would cling to our clothing,
or how we'd reel in those fish for them,
the color of blood oranges,
from the invisible water.

One day a man fell in, and did not reappear.
Passers-by, interrupting errands to the market,
exclaimed, "Where did he go?"
"When is he coming back?"
and, "How marvelous, those fiery yellow fish!"
Those of us born to the river kept quiet.
Smiled enigmatically. Said nothing. Gave no sign.
The language of our tribe is silence.
We wanted to protect our invisible river.
On its banks
the world belonged to us --
as did its mystery.