Here there was a lagoon
that we think was beautiful
we think was fresh.
We wish we could remember the lagoon
like a little garden of tiny fish
where the bigger ones
got better
at eating the rest.
Here there was a lagoon
and when the water was still
there was a river
that shaped these rocks round
before they became stray shots
of an abandoned ripple on the desert.

And before
before it was the bottom of the sea
and the whales used to mate right here
and not further south where we hear their melancholic wails
it was near this piece of ocean bed
where their whale ancestors dealt out the sea
as if they were gambling.

Here is the desert
and here was the sea
and between them
a lagoon we’d like to remember as fresh
if we could remember.
If we could remember that this peninsula
that parts in the continent
it was first split by a whimsical metal corpse
then by the ancient wound of the earth.
If we could remember
that this piece of land
emerged from the waters
with us
with our stone heart
our dirt heart
our jungle heart.
If we could remember that when this desert we went through
emerged from the waters
it emerged like the great beasts
fangs dripping
hungry
unaware
tormented, thinking it was
the last beast to emerge from the waters.

Detail of Arthur Dove's painting "Pond in Sunlight," 1935. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949 (49.70.80).

José García Escobar

José García Escobar is a journalist, fiction writer, translator, and former Fulbright scholar from Guatemala. He received his MFA in creative writing from The New School in New York City. His writing has appeared in The Evergreen Review, Guernica, and Words Without Borders. He is Asymptote’s editor-at-large for the Central American region.

Julio Serrano Echeverría

Julio Serrano Echeverría is a poet, documentary filmmaker, and visual artist. He studied Hispano-American literature at San Carlos Universtiy, in Guatemala. He has been part of educational projects based on filmmaking and visual arts. He’s a former Fundación Carolina (Spain), FONCA-AEID Ibero-American Artists’ Residence (Mexico), and Fundación Yaxs (Guatemala) scholar. He has published Estados de material (Catafixia 2017) and Central América (Valparaíso 2014), to name a few of his books of poetry; he’s also the author of several nonfiction and children’s books, and the transmedia project based on his essay "Ser el fuego". He regularly writes journalistic pieces, chronicles, and opinion columns for local media. As a filmmaker he has worked in different genres such as documentary, essay, film, fiction, and video art; some of this work has been featured in exhibitions and film festivals. Currently, he’s working on his first feature film, a documentary called El envoltorio sagrado. Additionally, he’s the founder and creative coordinator of Agencia Ocote, an interdisciplinary project based on the interpretation of the Central American reality and its current events.