Monday, November 30, 2009

Salvatore Attardo, "Columbus Poems"

Salvatore Attardo

Columbus Poems


I had dreamed hundreds of times
of my first step on American soil
and even had memorable words ready:
“This is a big step for me
and nothing for humanity.”

I landed at O'Hare
on the coldest night of the year
and left the plane almost last
with the off-duty crew.

So little was their concern
they didn't even bother
opening my suitcase.

And that was it:
actual America;
I immediately lost my way
looking for the gate.

That was America, indeed
ice in my apple juice
leaving Chicago by air.


I like to imagine
Columbus not stopping
passing Hispaniola
making land in the isthmus
crossing the mountains
half mad with fever
urging the few men left with him
to go forward

Obviously, I am thinking of Kinski’s
performance in Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo
and Aiguirre, the Wrath of God
as well as Harrison Ford in Mosquito Coast
and of course Hector Babenco’s
At Play in the Fields of the Lord.

But anyway, Columbus
crosses the isthmus
and faces the Pacific,
except this is no metaphor,
there is no Pocahontas:
Columbus sets sail in the Pacific
alone, or perhaps with a lone
pilot, a last trusted sailor
and is never heard of again.

I do not know why this image
appeals to me,
why a suicidal obsession
should be so inspiring.

The truth is I imagine
Columbus taking flight
transcending the ocean
becoming lighter than light

Salvatore Attardo is a Professor in the Literature and Languages Department at Texas A&M – Commerce. His poems, translations and photographs have been published or are forthcoming in Italian Americana, Apocalypse, Harpur Palate, Cadillac Cicatrix, Quiddity, Tampa Review and others.

RECONFIGURATIONS: A Journal for Poetics & Poetry / Literature & Culture, http://reconfigurations.blogspot.com/, ISSN: 1938-3592, Volume Three (2009): Immanence/ Imminence

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