In The ‘Catalonia’ Bookshop (Santiago)

She talked about going North
to a place where the desert
meets the ocean’s hip
where she’d slept alone on a beach
woken freezing before the day’s heat.

She said there’s a village on that coast
where everything but the buildings
are dead.

Where the color of the light
blinds the heat and eye both
where the space between those in love
disappears, while that between
those lying appears visible, enormous.

She asked if I were traveling alone
and looked long at me when I said
“No, with Lilli.”

“Don’t take her there
if you are at all uncertain.”

I smiled at her
shy yet honest

“We are already there,
disappeared in space.”

Then she said very softly
“The best geography,”

and took this journal down from its shelf
to write in the front of it
as though it were suddenly safe to do so.

I left the place and found
a hundred questions to ask her
as though each step I took
was a moment in time
never had between two friends.

Perhaps in another lifetime,
we’d agreed.

[Chile, 1996]