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Mirko Lauer

Three Short Trips to the Central Region

Translated by Michael L. Smith


Little miner bird with reddened cheeks (dear brother Pedro),
black worker bird, lead-miner bird, zinc-miner bird.
They will again embrace you, these clipped feathers
of the pen-waving, sonnet-writing, showboating-poet bird.[1]


River Mantaro [2], let me by (from the receding bank nobody calls me):
from the year '54 they order me to call,
I travel the whole night
& I can't arrive.


The palid stench of human bodies inevitably recalls
the dry smell of fire & even today - 20 years later --
the morning wash-up whacks his knuckles
in a creek of crystal rocks, & the vision burns him
(like nocturnal carbide at the mines of Huancavelica) [3].


1. The Central Region lies immediately east of Lima in the Andes. It is a primary mining area, and union activism in the 1960s and 70s.
2. The Mantaro River flows through the Central Region.
3. Huancavelica is a remote territory within the Central Region

Continuous Bass, 1974