"For Those Dead, Our Dead . . ."


When you get the nomination, the award, the
            promotion,
think about the ones who died.
When you are at the reception, on the delegation,
            on the commission,
think about the ones who died.
When you have won the vote, and the crowd
            congratulates you,
think about the ones who died.
When you're cheered as you go up to the speaker's
            platform with the leaders,
think about the ones who died.
When you're picked up at the airport in the big city,
            think about the ones who died.
When it's your turn to talk into the microphone,
            when the tv cameras focus on you,
think about the ones who died.
When you become the one who gives out the certificates,
            orders, permission,
think about the ones who died.
When the little old lady comes to you with her problem,
            her little piece of land,
think about the ones who died.
                        See them without their shirts, being dragged,
            gushing blood, wearing hoods, blown to pieces,
submerged in tubs, getting electric shocks,
                                    their eyes gouged out,
                     their throats cut, riddled with bullets,
dumped along the side of the road,
                     in holes they dug themselves,
                     in mass graves,
or just lying on the ground, enriching the soil of wild
         plants:

You represent them.
The ones who died
delegated you.


                      Spanish; trans. Jonathan Cohen


Ernesto Cardenal, Spanish, trans. Jonathan Cohen.