{ Lo Telúrico }


Telluric: of the earth, of the soil.

The landscape in which I grew up and the experience of transiting it for extended periods of time are constantly in my mind.

On the border of are the words that automatically succeed the sentence I grew up in. And that’s how I see it, how I remember it and how I think it felt like. The attraction, the pulling force that the centre or centres inflicted was felt deeply. The constant transit between cities during my childhood, the trips, the long journeys, were one of the ways in which that force performed.

In the midst of these circumstances, and also because of them, I am inclined to pay attention to the images in my head; the landscape, colours, rocks, mountains. They are the backdrops to my thoughts. Those images linger still in my head: the vast inhospitable landscape, the apparent monotony that can be dismantled by the mind of one that has seen so much of it.

On a different plane of existence, political lines dwell. They exist by dividing, naming and marking bodies. I think of this territory as one of them: an entity, connecting and communicating to its inhabitants, to their bodies and their thoughts.

I remember a phrase from a poem I memorised as a child: a man talking to the pampa: “Cuéntame, cuéntame, yérmica pampa” / “Tell me, tell me about it, barren plain”*. And the pampa responded. Man and pampa engaged in a conversation.

It is in this sense that I think the adjective telluric can be of use: to have it as an anchor to the soil.

The earth responds loudly from time to time in our territories. It moves, sometimes with vengeance. We’ve been preparing to face this for centuries. And this is when we are most aware of its presence, at least as an urban inhabitant.

The entire occidental coast of the continent shares this knowledge, this memory. It originates in the clash of two tectonic plates; their borders trace the shore of the Pacific Ocean, affecting four countries like an open wound.

My father used to be in charge of the seismographer in Tacna. He would occasionally take me with him to change the sheet of paper on the old machine. I remember the process of smoking the paper with an oil lamp and charging it in the drum, so that the fine needle could scratch a tracing of the imperceptible movement of the earth. The earth is really always moving and responding; most of the time it murmurs.

*’La Pampa Sagrada en el Alto de la Alianza’ Federico Barreto


Milagros Bedoya