Poem: Washed by Rain

Poem: Washed by Rain

A Chapter by Marie Anzalone
"

written for a contest about war

"

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.

 




© 2012 Marie Anzalone



Author's Note

Marie Anzalone
Published in the University of Connecticut human rights journal "Namaste" 2010 edition.

written for CHL's war contest- a perspective of a soldier fighting in battle.

I chose the Guatemalan civil war, during the time period where 626 Indian villages were wiped out in the 1980's by state sponsored scorched earth and genocide campaigns. Soldiers- trained, funded, and backed by the US government- took villagers at gunpoint and conscripted them as "workers" in the fight against the elusive guerilla army, purportedly hiding in the hghlands. Any villages suspected of aiding the guerilla were burned to the ground, and the citizens massacred in notably brutal fashion. I tried to write from the perspective a conscripted villager called upon to murder his neighbors. Today, the brutality of 20 years ago is marked most profundly by the refusals of anyone to talk about what was done. The survivors are the people I work with.

My Review

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Featured Review

Stunning, Marie..
I knew before I read this I would walk away a different person.
All of the others have stolen my words, but I will add that the horrors of war should never be hidden. It needs to be flashed in our face 24x7. I say that for the purpose of never letting us forget or get complacent. Then perhaps, this madness will cease..

Wonderful poem...simply wonderful

Posted 7 Years Ago


3 of 3 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

this is beautiful. Truly awesome

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Marie Anzalone

3 Years Ago

thank you very much, voice.
...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....

Diego was right-- this is the poetry that is important. After this, everything else seems so... frivolous... For this make me lose my footing, shatters any bubbles I have been trying to build, question what is after all, truly important in this world... and this makes me wonder, how far would I go, if the knife was held to the throat of the one I love most... I don't think there would be any limits to protecting that, I'm sure that despite wanting to be a hero, that I too, would kill and then bury what is left of my heart... Whatever are we humans, and what we live for, and what we love most...


Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Horizon K.

3 Years Ago

As long as the silence is not complete, one day, someone will dig into that earth, to find the bones.. read more
Horizon K.

3 Years Ago

I just want you to know, this poem was a huge inspiration to me... Ever since I read this, and Diego.. read more
Marie Anzalone

3 Years Ago

you are welcome, Horizon. In the past, we used to have contests for that sort of thing, to help each.. read more
It doesn't get more important than this; poetry. The poet that steps out of themselves to document an event that has been forgotten, glossed over by time/and tragedy has transcended. A powerful and weighty piece. We should all strive to tell such stories. Thank you for sharing this.

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Marie Anzalone

4 Years Ago

You honor me with your words, my friend. This piece, putting myself into the mind of someone who was.. read more
Dios nos perdona manana, por lo que hicimos hoy

When you first posted this, coward that I am, I jumped away from the horror of the facts. It's taken me two years to face the power of your words, the details you set out in such heart-breaking detail. Seems then, as in the far distant past, present, and no doubt, future, people will willingly accept the fact that human beings were responsible for inventing war and the atrocities with it.

What sad, sad words you've written: such horrors, written in quite simple language from the people who might have suffered them. Whether it's right or wrong to remain silent about such happenings is not for me to judge. But for me there has to be people like yourself who remind us of what evil Man can do to Man.

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Marie Anzalone

4 Years Ago

Please, my dear friend, never think you are a coward... you have the courage to look within, and to .. read more
emmajoy

4 Years Ago

To read your words is a means of following the spirit's reason for existence, Rachel. Nuff said, you.. read more
Marie Anzalone

4 Years Ago

you bring a tear to my eye today... in the best possible way... been feeling a little vulnerable lat.. read more
as sharp as the knife to the throat as you wrote it...your note makes it all the more clear the visuals of your poem

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Marie,
we can only imagine the nightmares that reside in the mind of a conscripted soldier. I was horrified at the casual, objective descriptions of murdering and burning a whole village and was brought to tears with "you never know what you can do ...soldier." and the last two stanzas of the poem. There is nothing heroic about war, as the speaker makes it so clear, and that should never be forgotten

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This is a stunning piece of work. Heavy, detailed, perfect.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This is immaculate, no wonder it was published. Don't very often find something like this online. Really, well done, I could only ever hope to be half the writer you obviously are.

I've re-read it several times. Although after reading the information you gave, I could appreciate and understand what you had written more, I'm thankful I read it first without it, as the impact was greater, and that original read is still burnt into my mind.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

A very compelling work. I know very little of my own history such as parents, origin etc, yet strangely I fascinated by the history of the world. While aware of the event you write of I don't have any real personal knowledge of the civil war in Guatemala. Yet you write with such rawness, clarity and passion I am compelled to learn more. Hope you did well in the contest because this is truly a heart rending tale spoken from an obviously tender place in the heart.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This is absolutely incredible. Such raw anguish and psychological torment that takes us deep into the soul of one who was forced to do the unthinkable. The Spanish puts us into his head and drags us under the same drowning ocean of woeful torment he goes through each day of his life.

Excellently written, Marie. An outstanding piece.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on January 23, 2010
Last Updated on December 17, 2012

A Pilgrimage in Epistles: Poems as Letters and Observations


Author

Marie Anzalone
Marie Anzalone

Xela, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala



About
Bilingual poet, essayist, novelist, and technical writer working in Central America. "A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, .. more..

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