Messages From Space For My Children Poem by Javier Campos

Messages From Space For My Children


What are you going put on this sunny morning?
A dress with birds and polka dots?
A little bag to put your colored pencils in?
A coin purse full of sand?
Covered with baubels?
A fake landscape
a step-ladder
To get into the spaceship from where I watch you?

Or some 1000-league-boots made of light
to walk all the way to the burning moon
to travel on the coast boat that goes along the lovely ocean of light
to jump over my garden of stars
and snatch the letter in flames
that I still haven’t sent you?


The sisters look alike
because one has dark eyes and the other blue
one looks at the shapes of animals in the clouds
the other one counts her colored pencils
to draw a comet’s tail

the littlest one knows how to dance like a piece of
shiny paper
in the quiet of the universe

the oldest one meanwhile leans on the window sill
watching a train go by in space:

the two of them don’t look at all alike
when they hug each other happy
while the sun goes down
like a giant gold coin
in the treasure chest
of their hearts.


I like to dream what you dream too:
a celestial kite
making loops really far away from the window of your house

just moving your hand
the happy stick-and-paper bird
flies over plazas, streets, and gardens
(it’s as fast
as my space ship)

from galaxies so remote
I always manage to hear the rustle of its brief freedom in space

tied with only one thin string that dove dances
and in its colorful paper tail
you alone see
a beautiful comet go by your window
telling you
-as if it were the love-struck mailman of the universe-
that a bag full of stars
full of messages for you was on its way.


My oldest one is tall like a sheaf of wheat
her face is round
like the marigolds
that only grow in the meadows
of Venus

when the little one laughs
the curtains at her window
let in
the most beautiful comet in the universe

the two sleep together sometimes
on that planet where I haven’t been for centuries:

on the monitor I can hear the beating of their hearts
and in a thousand fractions of a second
also smell the fragrance of wild flowers
growing outside their window
and the warm honeybuzzing of summer bees

as if it were the language of distant civilizations
that my ship found at last.


Once the littlest one stayed in bed
the mercury in the thermometer went up and down
she lay still watching the doctor
and hid under the sheets
when they’d go to give her the medicine

outside the freezing rain fell in the south of that planet
and you could hear the bell of a steam engine
that was leaving for space

after three days
the littlest one jumped up from bed like a fawn
and forever after the sun helped her

when the train was pulling into the closest planet
it was paralyzed by some strange
magnetic force in the universe:

from their windows
the astronauts often still see that rusty train
forever broken down
in the white forests of the moon.


Once the two sisters saw a train
go by in front of the moon
the little one said someone was waving from inside
her older sister said she didn’t see
anybody waving

anyway when the train passed
close to their window
a man could be seen sealing a letter
then he tied it up with invisible thread
and it came into their room as a gigantic kite:

so they fell asleep happy
that winter night
leaning their heads against that window
looking with surprise
at the marvels the infinite universe gives to us.


Bears sleep almost the entire winter
and don’t eat till spring
squirrels work tirelessly gathering acorns
up and down the trees they go a thousand times a day in the fall
they’ll will eat half asleep while the freezing snow
will whip against against the doors of their houses for months
cats are a different matter because they live napping
the whole year
chickens get a bit dumb on cold days
and doze easily
on top of a post

the other birds of all species
seem like dying fowl
on the leafless branches full of frost

the littlest fishes generally pass by drugged
by the change in the water
beside the sharks
and those predator fish bang into others
as if they didn’t know each other:

in the forests and the oceans
glistened by the cold winter air
there are animals that fall into a deep sleep
or dream walk around the world

like my lonely white ship in the infinite universe.


The eldest of the two sisters says she’s grown a lot
her shoes are tight
her blouses don’t even reach her waist
she can’t get into her pants
her eyes are bigger than a normal sized window
all the galaxies could fit in them

her hair
is brighter than a dreamt moon:

so when she hugs me from that infinite distance
all the fragrance of the Andes mountains
comes sleep waking through the window of my ship.


Their grandmother writes me that her granddaughters are getting bigger every day
Monday they almost reached the top of the gate
Tuesday the older one was as tall as she was
Wednesday the little one wore high heels
Thursday the eldest dreamed about studying at the University
Friday the younger one also dreamed
about what her older sister was dreaming
Saturday the big sister published a clandestine book
about the disappeared people in the universe

Sunday their grandmother decided to stay at home
because the dictator had died of old age
and lots of people with flags were moving about freely in the streets
to celebrate the end of the tyranny
and so the busses were probably full
and it would be impossible to visit the girls
to see if the two of them were as free

as they always wanted to be.


Once the older sister cut her finger
slicing a lemon
the blood welled up dark like all her crying
but the wound began to close
and she hid her hurt finger in the palm of her hand

several weeks went by and she didn’t want to touch anything
but when I told her I was going away forever in a space ship
her two hands clasped my arm like tentacles

now she paints every day in her story book
and her finger is completely healed:

that wound is an invisible, tiny little


Grandmother lives in a poor neighborhood

her granddaughters go to visit her one day out of the week
she makes them warm bread
and the two girls sit in the doorway to eat it

they see kids go by who stop to look at them
just like they were orphans
in concentration camps
leashed to barbed wire
like abandoned dogs

her granddaughters always lose weight from not eating
that day of the week:

in the space ship that has been close to them for centuries
a man inside
always knew his letters and messages
had reached the earth.

(Translated from Spanish by Nick W.Hill)

Malva 23 June 2020

I love how you express all your feelings about distance and sadness bc you can’t have them with you

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Javier Campos

Javier Campos

Chile, now in USA
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