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History of the Heart
by Carlos Bulosan

 

It was not like what I thought at all.
Anger and arrogance conflicted. Pride remained.
Disarmed till the aching heart cried aloud:
There is no race or region to life.
So I walked homeward through bourgeois homes,
Hearing the sharp cynical laughter storming
The clear and lucid pools of the brain.

I walked homeward to America, across the snow,
Fearing the heart would break with all the pride
Of the living and spill hate upon the snow –
Because there was nothing I could do.
Then I thought of running away from myself
Without some forgiving words of departure,
Without star witnesses, except America,
But the dawn found me with a new memory
And a clear conscience, whispering: Time is change.
Let me look at America. Children laugh;
They play in the sun. They are happy.
Birds are in the air. Dogs run on lawns.
From somewhere a train whistles eastward,
Racing overland toward the edge of progress.
I face the window and take a long deep breath,
Feeling the clean air entering the empty lung.

All is well. My brother reads a new novel.
Van Gogh is a bright glow of red and yellow.
And Gorki, quiet on the wall, is a friend.
Here is a bunch of grapes—a burst of color—
That a late visitor set upon the table.
This is America today. But tomorrow—?
And on the desk are letters from relatives.

Let the suspiring heart beat for the carcasses
That lie rotting in the night-wastes of Europe.
The physical indifference of a time is ruined.
Ruin is history. History is a crime.
Crime is the nightmare of peace.

© Carlos Bulosan

 

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