A Brief History of Mine


On the day after I was born, six cranes took off

from the side of a cropped green hill. The hill

was not a hill in the Chilean sense


but instead a zero: round, hollow, subtle,

a void filled with tragedy and possibilities

and above all, things that didn’t matter


like ads: a book, three weeks my elder,

that continues to be my older brother,

to whom I bring all of my new ideas so that he will be proud


and he shows me how, of course, they were actually his,

that they were already on the page,

three weeks before I was born.


In a rage I throw the book into a black hole and fly

to catch the cranes. They are far away but I follow

their tracks in the sands of beaches at the ends of the earth


yet each time that I am certain I have captured one,

it turns into the ghost of the book, and, laughing, tells me

to wake up. I am on the green hill, that cipher of nothingness,

in the middle of the unknown continent where I was born.

SEAN C.C. ROBERTS is a writer and environmental scientist, descended from deep Texas roots on one side and a long line of nomads on the other. He has lived for the past several years in Valparaíso, Chile, where he is an alumnus of the Neruda Foundation’s La Sebastiana Poetry Workshop. Tweets @seanccroberts.