Allá del otro lado, se extienden las playas inmensas como una mirada de amor
—Octavio Paz, “¿No hay salida?”
We may pilot a refitted three-masted collier or a state-of-the art starship,
it does not matter which, when we have sailed too long at sea or in space,
the mission, to find breadfruit or survivors, shriveled to a hard monotony.
When land swings into sight, as it eventually does, in glorious Metrocolor,
the shore bristling with a thousand spears closely packed as a wheat field,
how can it not bear the look of love as well, a planet like Earth, but better?
There will, of course, be a father, a powerful king or a brilliant professor,
who raised love to perfection and shielded her from pricks of knowledge.
He will have a servant, a robot capable of producing silk dresses overnight
or a translator trusted by the island and wise in the ways of the intruders.
The natives are expendable. They can line up to hold a curious fishing net
or the planet can be all landscape and empty of people. Crucial to the plot,
however, is the sense of impending havoc. We bring the monster with us.
Whether the name of evil is Original Sin or Id, Colonialism or Patriarchy,
we don’t know but that does not stop it from murdering our companions.
We concentrate it in one person, captain or scholar, so we can destroy it.
And that frees us to settle on this island with beautiful men and women
or flee in the vessel, with love on board, and watch that planet explode.