—upon learning that Neruda’s body will be exhumed on April 8, 2013 to determine
if he was poisoned as part of the CIA-backed overthrow of Chile’s Allende government
My lips open over all time, and all time,
Not just part of time has consumed my hands.
—Pablo Neruda, The Sand Betrayed
Murdering furies, torment of sorrows,
secret hypodermics of black oil
masquerading as emissaries
of Science, God and the American Way,
your signature stains the bones
of the Shaman who once spun gold
into a thousand leaves of light.
But even darkness coughs up its crimes,
and the Earth will vomit you out,
you who bleed the veins
of metallic underground rivers
to feed the starving ghost whose scream
goes on forever and ever.
And no drops of holy water,
no Araucanian rain can wash away
the blood-tainted dawn.
Let this poet sleep, snug in the fleshy
vines and copihue blossoms
of his homeland, bare as flint
on the moon-blanched spine
of Andean cordillera, supple
as grasses in the arms of the wind’s whim,
glassy as a prism striking flames of praise
in all the mouths of Earth and sky,
all the eyes watching over you now
like a guardian army.
©2013 Sean Arthur Joyce
• Copihue (pronounced cop-i-way) is Chile’s national flower.
• Araucania is one of the provinces of Chile, situated at about its geographic centre. The region is mentioned in many of Neruda’s poems; he seems to have felt a kinship with its indigenous Mapuche people. It is used here metaphorically as the ‘heart’ of the country he so loved.
• This poem was written April 8, 2013, the scheduled date of Neruda’s exhumation.