And the soul

if it is to know itself

must look

into its own soul

the stranger and the enemy, we have seen him in the mirror.

They were good boys, the comrades, they didn’t complain

about the tiredness or the thirst or the frost

they had the behaviour of the trees and the waves

that accept the wind and the rain

that accept the night and the sun

without changing in the middle of change.

They were good boys, for days on

they sweated at the oars with lowered eyes

breathing in rhythm

and their blood reddened a submissive skin.

Sometimes they sang, with lowered eyes

when we passed by the deserted island with the prickly pear trees

toward the west, beyond the cape of the dogs

that bark.

If it is to know itself, they said

it must look into its own soul, they said

and the oars struck the gold of the sea

in the sunset.

We passed by many capes, many islands, the sea

that brings another sea, gulls and seals.

Sometimes grieving women wept

lamenting their lost children

and others angrily sought Alexander the Great

and glories lost in the depths of Asia.

We moored on shores filled with night fragrances

with bird chirps, with waters that left on our hands

memory of a great happiness.

But the voyages did not end.

Their souls became one with the oars and the oarlocks

with the solemn face of the prow

with the rudder’s wake

with the water that shattered their image.

The comrades died one by one

with lowered eyes. Their oars

point to the place where they sleep on the shore.

No one remembers them. Justice.