Juan Carlos Galeano, born in the Amazon region of Colombia, is a poet, environmentalist, and an academic. A writer of Amazonian ecological spirituality, Galeano is the author of the book Folktales of the Amazon and several books of poetry. He is also the translator of various American poets, and the director of the documentary films The Trees Have a Mother (2009) and El Río (2018) focusing on Indigenous cosmovisions of Amazonia. He teaches Latin American poetry and cultures of Amazonia at Florida State University.
Poems by Juan Carlos Galeano
Translated by James Kimbrell and Rebecca Morgan
for Joni Adamson
That’s what Brazilians call pink dolphins
who turn into people at night,
and visit the villages along the riverbanks.
Alluring in their white suits and Panama hats,
they show up at parties to charm women.
At dawn, they take the prettiest ones to their
mother-of-pearl cities on the river bottom,
where no one pays for electricity or water.
In their bodies of pink dolphins, the botos eat the best
fish and swim up and down the rivers
(as if making love to the waves).
They don’t hesitate to break the fishermen’s nets and
steal their catch, only selecting the finest.
Dressed in pink suits they smile and blow kisses to the ships.
Tourists take pictures while the botos dazzle the children
with all their tricks.
Wherever they go, they always smile, and they listen
to what the river, the earth, and the stars say.
Since they are so charming and good-looking,
men and women admire them and even forgive
their mischievous stunts.
A drink of the juice derived from its
flowers and colors’
laughter can be heard.
The black river does the impossible to make the clouds
fall in love with him.
Clouds with green lips and red tails swim around like fish.
The teenage rainbow kisses clouds and rivers
at the same time.
Other clouds’ lips have turned purple from kissing the sky
Pink bikini clouds also bathe in the lakes.
To flirt even more with the river, the clouds dye their hair.
Two macaws emerge from the clouds making love with a rainbow.
* Brugmansia Suaveolens.