Sunday, 17 January 2021

From the Bridge - Claribel Alegría

I have freed myself at last
it has been hard to break free
near the end of the bridge
I pause
the water flows below
a turbulent water
sweeping fragments with it:
the voice of Carrmcn Lira
faces I loved
that disappeared.
From here
fropm the bridge
the perspective changes
I look backward
toward the beginning:
the hesitant silhouette
of a little girl
a doll
dangling from her hand
she lets it drop
and walks toward me
now she's an adolescent
gathers up her hair
and I recognize this gemure
stop, girl
stop right there
if you come any closer
it will be diflicult to talk
Don Chico died
after seven operations
they let him die
in a charity hospital
they closed Ricardo's school
and he died as well
during the earthquake
his heart failed.
Do you remember the massacre
that left Izalco wilhout men?

You were seven years old.
How can I explain lo you
nothing has changed
they keep on killing people daily?
It's better if you stop there
I remember you well at that age
you wrote honeyed poems
were horrified by violence
taught the neighborhood children
to read.
What would you say
if I told you that Pedro
your best student
rotted in jail
and that Sarita
the little blue-eyed girl
who made up stories
let herself be seduced
by the eldest son
of her emploers
and afterwards sold herself
for twenty-fice cents?
You've taken another step
you wear your hair short
have textbooks under your arm

poor deluded creature
you learned lhe consolations
of philosophy
before understanding
why you had to be consoled
your books spoke to you
of jusltce
and carefully omitted
the injustice
that has always surrounded us
you went on with your verses
searched for order in chaos
and that was your goal
or perhaps your condemnation.
You are coming closer now
your arms filled with children
it is easy to disract yourself
playing mother
and shrink the world
to a household.
Stop there
don't come any closer
you still won't recognize me
you still have to undergo
the deaths of Roque
of Rodolfo
all those innuntcmblc deaths
that assail you
pursue you
define you
in ordcr to dress in this plumage
(my plumage of mourning)
to peer out
through those pitiless
scrutinzing eyes
to have my claws
and this sharp beak.
I never found the order
I searched for
but always a sinister
and well-planned disorder

that increases in the hands
of those who hold power
while the others
who clamor for
a more kindly world
a world with less hunger
and more hopefulness
die tortured
in the prisons.
Don't come any closer
there's a stench of carrion
surrounding me.

Claribel Alegría (1924 - 2018)  El Salvador (born in Nicaragua)
Translator not stated

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