In the winter
Underneath the silky frost
Or at the bottom of black oceans
I grew amongst the side of freeways
I grew amongst blood splatters
that ran like oil paint
I grew in tired houses
And on pieces of paper
Under a 2am moon
That cast down a spotlight
I grew in elastic thunder
In midnight-coloured nights
And starving deserts
No matter where your fist sprinkles my seeds
I will still
Like bruised freesias
Maybe I’m not the prettiest bouquet you’ve ever clapped your eyes on
But I’m indefinitely
The most durable.
Fragmented, broken, array of speech remains
I have lost my clear brown eyes,
Fogged by History's shame
I have lost my direction,
The stars no longer shine
I have lost a family tree
Its branches dead, entwined
I have lost a nation,
And how to say my name,
I have lost a history,
Brutalised with shame
But I have gained a wisdom,
As sure and deep and true,
I’ve learned to bite the hand that fed me,
And turn my back on you.
complained while fighting against the raging waters of the high seas, a creation of man
against the force of nature. Its ropes stretched almost to breaking point, its sails filled
with the uncontrollable wind of the Atlantic, ready to burst and its wooden masts creaked
under the pressure. Yet it held. It had held through storms that would put fear into the
hearts of even the bravest captains, it had bested the brute strength of the sea and now it
waded triumphantly through the watery mass.
impressive and intimidating like La Venganza or the name of a saint, like San Juan. But
no, its captain, a man called Hernan de Lorenzo wouldn’t have it any other way. “El
Amigo, that’s the name. I can imagine it already, here on the side.”, and that was that,
one sunny day back in the port of Sevilla in Andalucia. Nobody knew the story behind
the choice of the name but they’d all accepted it without much thought. So, El Amigo had
battled against the unforgiving Atlantic for almost five weeks and in doing so it had
become their Amigo, their friend. From the first time the vessel almost toppled over, they
all knew that their fortunes were tied to the fortune of the Amigo.
goods and supplies to a colony off the coast of Jamaica. Nothing like the legendary
expeditions of the renowned conquistadors that had braved the wild lands almost half a
century before. Indeed, some conquistadors happened to share the journey with them on
El Amigo. They wore their armor proudly, their swords hung lightly from their waists
while they held on firmly to their halberds and lances. They were all silent, gazing
forward into this new land they were called upon to conquer. Their helmets shone in the
sun, sea water dripping from the sides. These were the warriors of the King and of God
Himself, they would bring order and religion to this wild land, they would tame the
savages that roamed it.
glance and he focused on the sea. His thoughts, like their ship, travelled to the New
World. What was this land like? He’d only heard about it through stories and the drunken
ramblings of sailors in the inns of Sevilla. “The devil’s garden!”, a man had shouted,
“You’re more likely to die in the jungle before the savages get to you…” With an
aggressive gesture he ordered another drink under the curious sight of young Giraldo.
After he drank, he continued his vivid description of the “devil’s garden”. “Oh, and my
friends, even the sea is unwelcoming, storms that tear whole fleets of galleons apart!”
“As if…”, he took a quick sip, “As if God does not want us good Christians travelling to
this Hell on Earth. He strikes in anger and the seas are filled with fire from the skies and
unearthly winds!” His words certainly had an effect on his small, rather intoxicated
audience as everyone shifted uneasily in their seats, their drinks long forgotten. “And if
he’ll come face to face with the savages….”. He put extra emphasis on the last word.
“Ungodly beings, more beastly than human, they prey on good men and smear their
hands with Christian blood. Whoever dares enter their jungles, whoever dares to cross
their plains, is met with savage aggression and an inhumane death.” The fire which
burned steadily in the fireplace shone a golden light on the man’s face making his
drunken eyes light up, adding to the dramatic description.
that the man had been a sailor who had remained on the ship while his comrades simply
traded with some savages. Now, as the ship came even closer to its destination, the
drunk’s words echoed in Giraldo’s ears. Was this New World truly as the drunken sailor
had presented it? Was it the Hell on Earth he’d so energetically described?
“Capitan! Capitan! Land! Land!”, the shouts of Jacopo, an Italian, interrupted the
thoughts of Giraldo. Everyone turned to the bow of the ship. Everyone but the
conquistadors. They remained still while their faces seemed to have lost their color. Their
eyes could barely hide their fear. For they knew that theirs was a different journey, a
journey in which they could all die. But Giraldo hadn’t the time for that. He rushed to
Lorenzo’s side and craned his neck to better see the New World.
one. They were greeted with green shores as far as the eye could see. White sand covered
the beaches and there was no other ship to be seen. A place unburdened by the touch of
man, untouched by the firm grip of civilization. This was not a Hell; this was an Eden.
Swarms of seagulls flew over the ship with welcoming calls. The sky devoid of clouds,
and the wind, a warm caress on the cheek of every man. The sails furled gracefully as
they had now entered the Caribbean archipelago. Every island they passed was a virgin
piece of land, small monuments of natural beauty. They were bathed in the sun’s life-
giving light while their smiles –for almost every man smiled at the sight of this beauty-
shone white under the sunbeams. On the shores, big trees with large leaves moved lazily
to the wind’s liking, a slow dance of celebration as this land commemorated their arrival.
The sound of the waves as they slapped the ship’s side, the only sound in this magical
land, served as a calming melody to everyone’s ears. How could this be compared to the
noisy port of Sevilla, a city bustling with activity and commerce? This was something
better, something different. This was no Devil’s garden, this land belonged not to Lucifer.
God dwelled in this land. Hidden beneath the azure waters, lying on the white sands,
hanging from the trees, travelling with the warm wind, watching all of them with the
watchful gaze of the sun. A Paradise on Earth, God’s garden.
barely able to accommodate their ship- its amber colors painting the sparkling waters
with a fiery shade. As they entered this port, Giraldo could not stop thinking about the
drunken man’s words.