And then on the ladder of the earth I climbed
through the atrocious thicket of the lost jungles
up to you, Macchu Picchu.
High city of scaled stones,
at last a dwelling where the terrestrial
did not hide in its sleeping clothes.
In you, like two parallel lines,
the cradle of the lightning-bolt and man
rocked together in a thorny wind.
Mother of stone, spume of the condors.
High reef of the human dawn.
Shovel lost in the first sand.
This was the dwelling, this is the place:
here the wide kernels of maize rose up
and fell again like red hail.
Here the gold thread was fleeced off the vincuña
to clothe the love affairs, the tombs, the mothers,
the king, the prayers, the warriors.
Here in the high carnivorous lairs the feet of man
rested at night next to the feet of the eagle,
and at dawn
tread with thunderous feet through the rarefied fog,
and touched the soil and the stones
until they could recognize them at night or in death.
I stare at the clothes and the hands,
the trace of water in the echoing hollow,
the wall worn smooth by the touch of a face
that with my eyes stared at the terrestrial lamps,
that with my hands oiled the vanished
timbers: because everything, clothing, skin, jars,
words, wine, bread,
was gone, fallen to the earth.
And the air came in with orange-blossom fingers
over all those asleep:
a thousand years of air, months, weeks of air,
of blue wind, or iron cordillera,
that were like soft hurricanes of footsteps
polishing the lonely boundary of the stone.