Latin American Writers

a window on their lives and work

Emilio Gómez Ozuna: A village that was transformed into phantasm

Translation by Carol Polsgrove and Paloma Fernández Sánchez

[es]The poet opened his eyes before the roosters. He did not feel the frost and drank the cold of the coffee, he threw himself into the street barefoot and the clouds embraced him, only a thin dog curled up in himself could see him for the last time. The poet did not have a sad face, he simply did not have a face. He was as simple as a thin floating shadow. He took a road that he had never seen, but the path was full of footprints of all sizes. He was disintegrating before the murmur of the chilly parakeets.

When the sun came out, the village awoke; no one wondered about the poet who sang in the narrow streets of stone, he who wrote giant poems on abandoned walls, he who with his woolen chuj and newspaper tucked under his arm gladdened the streets with his whistle, the guy who used to laugh to himself and, happy, responded to himself. Of the fellow who everyone admired because they did not know from where he had come, but he was the most radiant.

A village that was known for its flowers that the poet planted and that every morning were carpeted with white butterflies, he that carried to distant lands the words that he pulled up beneath the rocks of the rivers that watered the watercress, of he who showered the children with books behind his wooden wheels, who gave to children some spinning tops of gigantic hazelnuts that sang as they danced. Who chatted with the old ones and invited them to murmur strange ballads. Who taught the men to write and the women to ride a bicycle.

But one day the butterflies stopped arriving and fluttering around the cabbages, the blue thrushes no longer sang and the cold began to hurt. The rivers did not leap with joy among the rocks hidden among the capricious curves, the inhabitants noticed that the boys grew very quickly and that the girls lost their fat hazelnuts. The stronger men headed for the north and the women tucked away their velocipedes. The oldest men died and most aged women fell silent.

They knew it when the little house of mud and reed made with their own hands collapsed, they searched for it in the meager rubble and only found its heart that was still beating brimming with life. It was then that all packed their bags and fled the farthest they could. A thin dog curled up in himself was the only one who remained in that village transformed into phantasm.

Translation of “Un pueblo que se convirtió en fantasma” (Copyright 2022 Carol Polsgrove and Paloma Fernández) published by permission of Emilio Gómez Ozuna, an artist and writer in San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico.