Washed by Rain
el sol llora para nosotros esta tarde
[the sun weeps for us this afternoon]
and all the laundresses in the land could haul these muddied shirts
up to the washing place, and scrub them on the rocks until their knuckles bleed
yet still not remove those stains we put on them today.
a blouse, just the width of a man’s spread fingers, palm flat, as if to strike a blow,
the blow we do not dare turn on the ones holding rifles
to our machete wielding forms and figures.
Figures, then, silhouetted in flames, and another blouse, split up the front, in slices
newly embroidered with a fresh application of fine scarlet along the jagged seam,
its owner’s unborn prize taken as a token of our passing.
Dios nos perdona manana, por lo que hicimos hoy
[God forgive us tomorrow for what we did today]
I wrap these images and sounds and places now in silence so deep
three generations will not make me speak, ever, of the burning chapel smell
because the mind slips sideways when a man beholds the crookedness.
I learned today a knife carves arms like cornstalks, splits abdominals like a gourd skin
into this, the land of maize and trees, were we led by los locuras-
as men asked to do murderers's deeds, for our state long after it abandoned us-
and I keep a remnant of a charred anciano’s shirt, solely for remembrance
that you never know what you can do until demanded by a uniformed soldado
holding a torch to your home and a knife to her throat.
Their work here is done, and the ashes settle into the afternoon sky
soon the seasonal evening rains will wash the hallowed ground clean
because when survival is tantamount, you no longer care that your side is right.
solo cuida lo que permita que exista un otro dia.
[you only care for what lets you exist another day]
I will ask my wife to take these pants to the laundry stone to fade the stains-
and pray they never think that we support the guerilla here, but will tell my children
about the place I know they can run to, just in case.
There is now a field of loose dirt in what used to be the neighbor’s town
and there are probably none who will ever think to look there, again-
for any trace of the living.