he Castaway found

paper bottle
half-burnt stick or pen
to scribble help I am here

and he was hoisted on the deck with his inheritance
of bones lowered in the berth
and his eyes closed like a patient in a sick bed and he was carried along
like a boy.

They told him likethis better likethis on the soles the skin
the hands that stretched the sheets
said to him yesyes
you must return!

He returned.

The swimming of the ocean
twin to the hull to the ribcage of the boat
taught him at the heart how to swim how
to survive told him the hands go from here to there
as the sea applauded on the other side.

For this
he was enveloped in the whisper of the linen dining tables.
The tribe swallowed him up.

But that was
the last
that they heard
of all those who found neither pen nor charcoal
nor bottle
nor you

because there was only sand all around.

Author Image

Feature image by Todd S. Hale

Tatiana Orono

Tatiana Oroño was born in San José, Uruguay, in 1947. She is the author of seven books including La Piedra Nada Sabe, Morada móvil, and Tout fut ce qui ne fut pas/ Todo tuvo la forma que no tuvo. Her poetry has been published in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Chile, El Salvador, Spain, France, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.

Jesse Lee Kercheval

Jesse Lee Kercheval is a poet, writer, and translator, specializing in Uruguayan poetry. She is the author of America that Island off the coast of France, winner of the Dorset Prize, The Alice Stories, winner of the Prairie Schooner Fiction Book Prize, and the memoir Space, winner of the Alex Award from the American Library Association. Her translations include The Invisible Bridge: Selected Poems of Circe Maia.