Monday, May 2, 2016


V I C T O R     J A R A

It's So

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.

Daylight goes.

Evening is soon.

My friends, we are to become

The last light in the pond.


Bob Arnold
Walter Lowenfels took "Faraway. . ." for his seminal anthology
For Neruda, For Chile (Beacon Press)