“This tale is terrible, and if you have suffered
you will forgive me, I do not lament it.
That is how the wicked perpetuate themselves:
this is reality and I do not lie.”

Pablo Neruda, "Song of Protest"


Neruda’s Drum

When Neruda died
the volcanoes shuddered like a spine,
an eagle wounded by its prey, but did not
shed a single steaming tear

The people walked in black lines
on the mountainside, down the old paths
of the generations of raindrops
looking for a river

The ocean stalked the long coast
like a tide of lions grinding sand in their jaws,
but did not cry out

The people wailed against
the dark mouth that eats their passionate language
voice by voice

The wind kept up a grieving
that tore at the houses
as the dead tongue had torn at the heart,
but the houses did not fall

The people went home
after the procession
and Neruda’s drum began to beat again
slow
and certain