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Antonio Cisneros

In '62 the Hungry Marine Birds Reached as Far Inland as Downtown Lima

Translated by Michael L. Smith

All night the birds traveled from the coast—here is
spring migration:
the tribes and their combat cars on the lawn, the temples
and car roofs.
Nobody saw them reach the walls, nobody at the doors
—citizens more deeply asleep than young married couples—
no one stuck a head out a window and those that did
only saw a sea-blue sky without a crack or fissure in its back
—except the milkman or the last drunk—and nevertheless
the air was a tower of beaks and tangled hides
as when I slept near the sea during Holy Week
and the air between my bed and those waters was an old buzzard
from the rocks enjoying himself with a dead skimmer
—and the female gulls snapping at the male gulls and a shaggy
comoran pounding itself against the walls of the house.

All night they traveled from the south.
I can see my wife with her very clean, neat face while she dreams
of herds of walruses, their flanks pecked and opened by the birds.