V I C T O R J A R A
After love, you lift your dress
Wash in cold running water.
I’ve to work in the morning,
Drive through the field, frighten
A flicker from wet grass
To the stone wall, birch, white oak.
It all started with you hugging my neck
Pulling back and laughing.
We’d open a large window upstairs
Lie down in the river sound.
The mason’s young helper unloads stone
Then breaks for a cigarette,
All day guns cement mixer blades.
Long handle shovel stuck in sand
Lime dust blowing
Whitewash peeling from ripped out
Barn ceiling boards.
Two weeks ago this was a new job —
Rotten sills weren’t jacked
Bolts cut —
A buzzard flew up from the valley
Cockeyed in stiff wind
Beating rough edged wings,
Very black on melting snow.
Now 4-wheel drives burn tread
On the hillside, tool boxes slam
Workers pitch vision to the ground,
Black flies sting our skin.
By the end of day a red fox
Hops out of that sunny part of the field.
I hear a school bus downshift miles away.
Two guys clean out a wheelbarrow
Drink from the hose
Talk of bear hunting.
Faraway, Like the Deer's Eye
for Victor Jara, Chilean folksinger
Ah yes, now I believe I know —
A cool breeze and very early morning
A wood thrush breaks from the pasture,
Fences have all been mended,
Here and there animal hair.
I think of Jara; Victor,
By jesus as they busted your fingers
And you kept to the last moment
Something loving, say your sister, far in your belly.
Then they beat you like the backside of a horse
And it all fell — my chore bucket spilled
Suddenly in Vermont.
I may still have the gathering of birds,
The pull of this long river
Where I wade to my waist, undo my hair and wash slowly
Strong sweat and black flies,
A quiet day with the saw
Now near its end.
But Chile stays — forever.
How in the hell can you ask me to forget
A father dragged down from an attic
And pumped into a scream
In front of his huddled family?
The blood goes everywhere
And they live with it
And the killers — shit,
Something the raccoon wouldn’t even wash.
Evening is soon.
My friends, we are to become
The last light in the pond.
WHERE RIVERS MEET
Walter Lowenfels took "Faraway. . ." for his seminal anthology
For Neruda, For Chile (Beacon Press)