Jean, Maura, Ita & Dorothy—Solstice Lights
fallen blossoms from the hanging fuscia
on the front porch,
Katie arrives with her Mom
who's on her way to work.
I'll take Katie to preschool,
but first we'll brush teeth
and spoon seeds from grapes
for a smoothie. Then we'll cut
roses for Mama and Grandma.
We'll cut some for Kate's teachers, too.
we cut from the side
and out of danger.
Kate asks if she can take
Bacheley Buttons to her teacher,
and I say, Yes, Yes, Yes—
Get in the car. Kate buckles up
putting flowers in the door handle
where they'll be safe.
8 June 2010
MEDITATION ON THE MURDERED PEACE WORKERS
FROM CHALATENANGO 25 YEARS LATER
This quiet morning's interrupted
by my daughter's phone call:
"Dad, it's Leah. I'm on my way to Les Schwab's
in ten minutes, and take me to work?"
Bai Hao White Tip Oolong Tea
before first light won't take me
anywhere today. December 2d,
2005. Cleaning the windshield, I scrape
the date in ice while warming the engine.
I'm cold as any considered privilege
being taken for granted, before driving
down Walnut, looking into the sun
coming up over the high school's furnaces
sending out chimney smoke warming
cold bricks for the children
just now emerging from their houses.
My daughter's a new mother,
and her mother and I are helping
with care giving as she returns to work
as a kindergarten teacher at her school.
to the Mexican girl walking across snow
in a t-shirt, turning to me, getting out
of the car. "She's one of mine. Thanks Dad—
I'll get a ride from someone at school
to pick up my car tonight." Common days.
I had just written the name Jean Donovan
in my notebook when the phone rang.
Now I watch my daughter take the hand
of the 5-year old with no coat,
set back on course, grateful for my daughter,
this moment of true witness, chastened.
"Where did you go?" Karen asks
from her newspaper as I enter the house.
Jean Donovan, Sr. Maura Clark,
Sr. Ita Ford, and Sr. Dorothy Kazel—
in Chalatenango, El Salvador—
give me the joy of this day.
My daughter gives me the gift of praise.
For seeing the poverty
one is identified as a dangerous person.
The good shepherd takes the hit
from the wolf. Take it straight.
Take it where it leads.
Take it to the absurd. These
When you pray, you stand in your own blood.
The face of Jean Donovan
had been completely destroyed.
Today, women from all over the world
come to El Salvador to march with women
in solidarity. Four women made their ascent
into Heaven 25 years ago today.
Karen makes it possible for me. A march
on Washington calling for ordinary citizens
to resist while the President leaves in his chopper.
I make Karen's latte by foaming
milk until it's stiff. I pour 1/4 inch of milk
into her cup mixing it with a spoonful
the rich liquid holds the foam
as I fill the cup, before pouring
the dark expresso over the top
and dusting with vanilla and cinnamon.
Karen reads me the headlines.
I tell her about the ride in the car
with our daughter. She forgot
her breast pump at home, had
to turn around and get it. The moment
getting out of the car—the teacher
taking charge of the play ground.
The joy I felt, and the humility
before this day. "Are we going
to walk these dogs in the park?"
"Let me see if my underwear is dry—
I need at least one pair." We carry
the camera. Karen walks Sadie
Almost ten years old! goes with me
on a leash across traffic on 16th.
We photograph each other in snow,
like what we see. Karen catches
me running with the dogs.
We'll use thse photographs
for our Christmas Cards.
Karen has planned a lunch with friends,
We'll read and listen to poems tonight in Tri-Cities.
President Carter suspended aid
after Romero was murdered,
but what happened after the murder
of the nuns? He reinstated aid
made it clear that the military would get its money.
There will be no justtice for the generals even now.
Window shades for the truth report.
Questioning the Official Version
is the only way. If you do nothing
when something bad happens,
the order turns into this:
Look the other way.
This is the atmosphere of approval.
The real order is violence.
20 years of classified documents remain.
General Cassanova. General García.
We have the names. Ambassador Corr,
the Reagan appointee. Some will want
to provide a different perspective of history.
Democracy evolves on a rough road.
Drawing fire from both sides.
Jon Sobrino says the primary call
comes from victims. Crucified peoples
have the power of La llamada, the call
carrying the weight of reality,
bearing it in their cries. No longer
giving what they have,
giving what they are. It is better
Be present, not just for awhile,
but while you're forever here. Verification
is crucial. The cross doesn't speak to us
anymore. People no longer nailed to crosses.
"Defenseles majorities are put to death
innocently, massively, anonymously.
A martyr is someone who lives like Jesus."
The principle of solidarity among unequals.
I bring Christmas ornaments from the basement.
Terry stands in our living room,
"I'm back from the cave," she says, extending
for 31 days and nights. "22 hours in solitary
every day." "Implosion or explosion," I ask,
and she talks us down the highway into Richland.
I eat Pahd Thai with chop sticks in my left hand
recalling the testimony of the civil rights worker—
They shot me in the left hand
for being a leftist. I meet Rita Mazur
for the first time. "Ten years ago I was going
blind and wrote this poem to help me
store up memories. A friend of mine
put it on the Poetry Pole. I didn't know
it would ever be in a book. Reading
for you tonight is a miracle." I write down
all of my favorite lines from poems
puts us in the kingdom not the empire.
"Teeth stained purple from wine."
"Lupus turned our family into an Emergency Room."
"The body performs while the mind sleeps in."
Each empty seat in this theatre
Karen tells me she'll sit in the back
and sleep on the way home.
Terry rides up front with me.
We're home by midnight.
Snow tires give us the confidence we need.
We use the light of four women to remember.
[Tightened for excessive abstractions. Alteration of factual details not permitted by the principles/principios of this poem. 13 June 2010. jb]
PAINTED CROSSES HANGING
FROM THE LIGHT BESIDE MY BED
Padre de huérfanos y defensor de viudas...
Es Dios en su santa morada.
— Salmo 68:5
Father of orphans and protector of widows.
One of the crosses hanging from the reading light
destroyed in the earthquake and carried by women
carrying what remained of their homes.
This cross, painted brown,
three inches by two inches, hangs from
white cotton string, clear first image
of my every morning, artless in its clarity.
The story is plain in the wood,
plain in the making, a waiting necklace,
waiting for me to place it around any word
but not passive.
There is another cross.
Smaller, painted in bright colors.
This cross, too, from Salvador.
A rabbit with a green body sits
in the crossroads, spilling in both directions
of the cross itself. Red paws, brown body
and ears, with a white head. To the left
of the rabbit, more like a bunny,
sits a white house with red roof
of the house and rabbit, a small green tree
grows in the trunk of the cross.
The back side of a cross I place
around my neck opens to a painting
of a red rose and a yellow bumblebee.