Into the Land of Fires

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Contributor: Lorraine Caputo

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The phantom full moon
meets the morning sun
gliding a broad band
across the Strait of Magellan

On the higher pampas
guanacos crunch
the icy snow with
each stride of their grazing

In a rime-edged pond
rose flamingos huddle

A solitary ñandú
gazes across the plain

Again along the Estrecho
its waters deep-
steel-blue, fringed by
stiff paja brava

Upon these shores strewn
with centuries of wrecked ships
rust the ruins of an estancia

A herd of guanaco startles
& flees through the grass,
russet-headed caiquén
take wing

Across the First Narrows
of Magellan’s Strait
to Tierra del Fuego, its
autumn-gold steppes
marked by the soft step
of guanaco, southern
clouds periwinkle
in the noon sun

A northern wind whip the
hair of chapped-face men
leading horses, whips the
fur of their dogs, the
fleece of their sheep

A rainbow arcs
from the now-hilly land,
into the snow-laden sky

Magellan Geese fly
low over this frozen
Land of Fires swept
by winds swirling across
frosty lagoons

On the far southern horizon
scrapes Darwin’s
glaciered range

Guanaco shelter
in rocky tors
sculpted by the wind
into abstract
lace towers

The harsh gale
rustles the manes
of wild mustangs
atop a knoll, scouting
the pampas below

Faintly Iris’ arch
washes the clouds
above almost-winter plains

Frigidly the ocean gleams
beneath the weak
austral sun

Twilight drapes its royal-
blue cape across the steppes,
a fiery full moon rises
over Tierra del Fuego

I search the clear night
for that Crux Australis
to lead me to the shores
of Beagle Channel

Moonlight bathes the snow,
silhouettes Northofagus
& ghostly mountains
streaked with frozen

ñandú—Lesser Rhea (Pterocnemia pennata)
Estrecho—the Spanish name for the Magellan Strait is Estrecho de Magallanes
paja brava—a wild grass (Festuca spp)
caiquén—Magellan Goose (Chloephaga picta)
Cruz Australis—the Southern Cross
Northofagus—family of larch & beech trees

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Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer whose works appear in over 90 journals in Canada, the US, Latin America, Europe and Asia; eight chapbooks of poetry; five audio recordings and ten anthologies. Caputo has done over 200 literary readings, from Alaska to the Patagonia. For the past decade, she has been traveling through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.


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