Saturday, July 09, 2011

POEM: Mapocho River

Once it was known for its headless &
handless bodies bobbing through
Santiago, the mutilated city.

Today, Chile sends its wines and grapes
North, exporting its fruit rather than a vermilion grief
That could always turn the river red

as wine with impotence.
The past is a fleeting ghost but that is what the people
are accustomed to (even Pinochet is dead!)

You can hear the voices of the disappeared
in sibilant hush of moving water
that sluices through every anguished heart.

It is said that everything comes to
light of day, we ask for truth
to disinfect everything,

But this is not always so.
So much is carried in the shadows,
in crying hearts of the mothers

in the dark alleys through the city
in the saintly ember of el Estadio Nacional
amid a night as inky as hopeless prayer

of the tortured, of the lost
as inscrutable as the unfathomable hand of God
black as the unknowing & fog of the lost

deep in the flesh, where no one ever looks.
In lost family, so much surrendered to memory
Like a garden that is overgrown

In humid South American air, 
where every fragrant thing is caught for a second
remembered & then is never seen again

a flaccid dream pressed into
Soft earth, where the fortunate dead get to go.
Not a bloated headless cork

speaking the language of loss
Along the fluent snake of a river.


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