New Vibrations

by Ila Colley

Inspired by Jens Lekman’s ‘A Promise’ and Patricio Guzmán’s
‘Nostalgia de la Luz’.

A Swedish musician strums a guitar and tastes beer
in his nostrils, and feels biting steel strings
across his fingers like the sun-blazed railroads
between ghost towns on the Atacama Desert.

His lyrics wage a porcelain pledge to an ill friend
to see Chile, the Chilean women, the most beautiful.
He forgets the cracked lips of the desert, the broken
voices of mothers and sisters with their hands in sands

of Mars, who left their hourglass at home years ago,
remembering only how to use their knuckles like rakes
through a sky to catch the tail-end of a cloud
as the weather reports document sun. Sun since decades.

The bloody evidence, long devoured by a thirsty nation,
is rich on their tongues. At sunset their ears turn eastward.
Spilling over from the green side of the Andes,
a soured wind; the brittle chime of bones knocking.

A Swedish musician strums a guitar and tastes beer
in his nostrils, and feels biting steel strings
across his fingers like the sun-blazed railroad
to Pinochet’s concentration camp on the Atacama Desert.

He knows the sting like a live wire, slicing the world
from Santiago, where it all burned out, to Stockholm,
whose clean white sheets and city fountains hide
a muddy crucible, hot in the throat of a new European ideal.

But sings only of beautiful Chilean women with their hands
clean because if a new world cannot be allowed to dream
it is no new world. Instead it is plagued by history,
an illness which promises nothing but infinite progression

towards the star at the brink of a swelling universe,
towards a constellation of bones too flung to resemble
anybody who once lived, or shared your blood.
But let us choose which vibrations to pursue