Route 20 stretches endlessly ahead,
Vultures circle high above,
Perpetual scavengers searching for prey:
Political slogans scrawled incongruously on rocks,
Phrases that ring empty in this barren land,
‘Todos con Cristina’.
Oblivious of progress or change.
I too echo this sense of carving a small slice of destiny:
Might I forge my own imprint in the sand,
As did General Roca and his ‘conquistadores del desierto’?
My enemies are not nomadic natives of these lands:
Yet an unseen foe that lies deeper, somewhere out there in the desert,
Staring me blankly in the face:
Perhaps in the form of a cross, hung precariously on an adobe wall,
Or between the red flags that flutter by the road-side,
Eulogising a patron saint, ‘El Gaucho Gil’.
Out there in the desert, words do not exist,
There is no disguise or persuasion with charm and wit,
All discussion comes to an abrupt end.
There is only the silence of the wind
And the myriad stars, overwhelming.
Life pared back to basics is more easy to defend.
In the transition from darkness to dawn
Sporadic ranchos are seen in ghostly form,
Occasionally offering goat’s meat:
We are finally nearing our destination, 25 de Mayo;
An oasis of green productivity,
Life procured by the river Colorado.
Tall rows of poplar trees, and darker willow leaves,
Provide shelter to the alfalfa and vines.
Here the daily toil is etched on furrowed brow,
Darkened and dulled like the sullen desert ochres.
All this greets me in my sleepy slumber,
Disorientated, in the light of dawn.