I Know I’m Alive (Jorge Gaitán Durán)

June 15, 2009

I know I’m alive on this beautiful day
laying beside you. It’s summer.
Heated fruits in your hand
pour their thick odor at midday.

Before we laid down here, this radiant
world didn’t exist. Never in vain
we tore away from desire
the human love that defies the stars!

I run naked towards the blue of the sea.
I return to you like I return to the sun and I knot myself in you,
I’m born in the splendor of knowing you.

I feel the sweat of the siesta.
We drink red wine. This is the feast
in which we remember death the most.


A friend of mine left for Columbia with his family yesterday to complete an adoption. Since this friend happens to be one of the first two original recipients of these “Monday Poems,” begun some 22 months ago, I thought I would honor him (and his family) by sending out something by a Columbian poet today.

Durán has said, “My work simply affirms that at all times man must be conscious that he will die, which means that eroticism is, like poetry, the only moment in which we can demolish an implacable history.” The phrase is helpful because it locates the last line of the poem, which comes as a surprise. I’m not convinced that eroticism is the “only moment in which we can demolish an implacable history,” but, like poetry, the erotic moment is capable of unmooring us, briefly, from the limitations of time and space. It sets us adrift, but also can wake us as from a dream. This comes through more clearly in another poem called “The Instant”:

The day burnt like a rose.
And the bird of the moon fled
singing. We looked at each other naked.
And the sun lifted up its red tree
in the valley. Next to the river,
two beautiful bodies, forever
young. We recognized ourselves.
We had died and woken up
from time. We looked at ourselves
again, with curiosity. And the night
returned to cover the memories.

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