Course Catalogue LTR 207

Andre Peltier

Course Catalogue Number LITR 207: An Archaeology of the Giants of Latin America

For Professor Joanne Stein, 1938-2020

‘el muerto no es muerto:
es la muerte.’

Jorge Luis Borges

As Professor Stein started
her lecture,
I sat in the back,
quietly flying under
her radar.
She praised the genius
of every writer we covered,
but for some reason,
stopped short with Borges.
She was holding something back.
It didn’t make sense;
she loved Neruda
Paz, Márquez,
and even Fuentes.
She talked with such affection
about Love in the Time of Cholera,
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Chronicles of a Death Foretold
Quoting Neruda,
she’d close her eyes and with raised,
shaking hands
transform the room
into another world.
We were there
in that Santiago hospital.
We all raged against
Pinochet’s needle.
For six and a half hours,
we watched him die.
Professor Stein took us there;
it was beautiful.
‘Love is so short,
forgetting is so long,’
she said, and we knew
what it was to die
at the hands of that
Chilean madman.

But Borges was different.
Years later, I learned
her secret.
She, too, had a piece of
that map.
Suárez Miranda
spelled it out so certainly.
The land was covered
and the land was the map.
Those cartographers
had left forgotten scraps behind
and in her silent journey
through the fallen kingdoms,
Professor Stein stumbled
upon the last vestiges of that
cartographic dream.
She never talked of it in class.
‘Solitude is the profoundest fact
of the human condition,’ she told us.
In solitude
she clung to those ragged
pieces of history.
Eco claimed it impossible,
but she knew.
She clasped those depictions
of the empire close to her chest
as only a true believer could.
Not the reliefs alone,
but also the artifacts and subject.
She held them close
and remembered
the totality of killing time;
dying, like Paz said,
‘bit by bit.’

Andre Peltier

Andre F. Peltier is a Lecturer at Eastern Michigan University where he has taught African American Literature, Afrofuturism, Science Fiction, Poetry, and Freshman Composition. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI His poetry has appeared in Tofu Ink Press or is forthcoming in The Great Lakes Review, Big Whoopie Deal, and Prospectus.

Issue 33
Back to Issue
Also in this thread
This thread has no other posts