Carolina Rivera Escamilla: “Children”


How will we remove the thorn
war time sting left us moribund,
dead, dying, no absolution
in our aging memory.
Our boys and girls caged
behind bars and barbed wire
wait for a despot
                           to release them.
They are not the children of the hellish nights
Of massacres in El Mozote,
                                                    in Zumpul, 1981
They painted the moon black.
The thorn filters through rivers, lakes, seas,
The water veins swell,
the thorn embeds in water-bloated flesh
How do we excise it
from our imprisoned daughters and sons?
The thorn infects us
in our collective souls.
River Stones fly to the stars
You can hear voices
                           in its firefly light,
The night of the children
of El Mozote,
I call to the stars,
to the ancestors,
to the earth.

I plant words that echo in the universe
And I offer the universe my future,
our boys and girls
caged within metal bars.
Not guilty.
Our sons and daughters
caged in our twenty-first century
prison they call detention facility.
Not the massacred ones
on that December night of 1981.
I remember
             whistling gusts of wind,
the smell of running mountain water
carpeting starry night.
You caress the hair
of our volcanoes.
Fireflies lit up the hands
of the children,
lightning bug
lanterns flying through the universe
that December of
purple-pink twilight.
Our boys and girls imprisoned!
What suns of tomorrow are we offering them?
What future?
That December night,
before the moon stopped
lighting the pock-marked roads,
the beast already opened its eye
spit bullets against them.
Nine-year-old girl knew
All her family massacred
Remembers posing for the polaroid photo
In her white communion gown
Between her two older sisters
dressed in pink dresses with
white flowers in their hands.
She clutches fireflies and lightning bugs
Once they were machine-gunned,
fireflies and children slip towards forgetting.

In our throats the infected thorn
gags against ancient memory
our daughters and sons imprisoned,
teachers, mothers, fathers choked
The future imprisoned
by the same beasts,
that silenced the voices
of parents and children,
perfumed by carrion in 1981.
We are failing once more
in this garden cemetery.
We have separated.
We have split up.
We no longer fly.
We are dead.
Carrion has covered us
with other names
emptied of meaning.
Our boys and girls in jail!
Not even one Firefly,
no lightning bug wings its way,
to accompany them in their fear.
How do we get the thorn out
of our throat to scream
                                         ancient memory
recalled, revived, resurgent,
Our daughters and sons are caged!

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