(Not) My Writing Desk

The Moon Is Not My Writing Desk

For a few seconds the moon vanished. People watched through dark lenses; from Santiago there was partial obscurity, but in the north of Chile the moon was entirely gone.

In those cold dry climes of the Atacama desert, La Serena, Guanaquero, Chañaral, La Higuera, Incahuasi and Cachiyuyo, even on an ordinary day the thinness of the air can make you dizzy. The pale hills dissolve in light. Nearby the neocolonial churches, the dome of another holy place rises up, that of the astronomical observatory.

On this day, a solid black circle could be seen covering the sun, and the land fell briefly into darkness.

They say the moon is a silhouette, but I prefer to believe that someone needed a writing desk along with paper, a vast white parchment on which to ink out her lines bigger than any page on earth.

The moon is not my writing desk; the moon is the writing desk lent to Gabriela Mistral, that poet who floats in the stars as earth and dust of roses and bitter fragrance of orange blossom. Even now she needs a writing desk, for she will always write, so she borrowed the moon for a few seconds which in the universe are a lifetime.

Will I meet you someday, Gabriela, so you can show me your new verses “at the edge of a pale path that borders fields, alongside a fountain made white from the moon?” And next year, will the one using the writing desk when it disappears be a different poet, or another version of yourself?

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