We can still do honour to the Ona and Yahgan
Even though they no longer exist
As peoples: their blood, and some of their culture
Survive, but also there is memory:
Hunting guanaco and eating shellfish,
They successfully inhabited this southern island
For millenia, among glaciers and forests,
Mountains and winds, storms and green sea.
“I write of you: beautiful, gigantic,
With your snowy, white-crowned peaks,
In the bays interconnected with your valleys,
Of you I write strongly, vibrantly,
You are the Queen and we the vassals.
“I was dreaming of your shining streets,
Those boxes, full of peace and work,
Trees felled for the making of houses,
Disturbing the future of energy,
Children in their thousands running on your shores.
“Today I write of your deeds in dust and snow,
One flies away, the other melts.
Today I become a wandering beggar,
A petal from northern impotence.
You are not a refuge, you are an Island of Fugitives.”*
At the snow-capped corners of the ultimate earth,
Here also we may see our fate;
As the petrel flies or the bark sinks,
Here Imagination flies too;
In a crystal, quintessentially white,
A snowflake of unbroken beauty,
Bright as the face of a cosmic angel,
Smiling without fear like a million stars,
In myriad rings of silent dance.
*Yo te escribi hermosa, gigantesca
con tus picos nevados coronado
en la Bahía tu valle engarzado.
Yo te escribí positiva, vibrante.
Tú la reina y nosotros vasallos.
Yo te soñaba calles relucientes,
arcas llenas de paz y de trabajo,
el árbol derrumbado hecho madera,
turba la futura energía,
miles de niños correteando tus playas.
Hoy te escribo hecha de polvo y nieve.
Uno te escribo hecha de polvo se derrite.
Hoy resultas viajera mendicante,
hoja de la impotencia norteña.
No eres asilo. Eres Isla del Prófugo.
(My translation from Alba Chaman.)