Synopses & Reviews
IN SALVADOR, 1978-80
"In memory of Monsignor Oscar Romero"
Caminante, no hay camino
Se hace camino al andar.
Antonio MachadoSAN ONOFRE, CALIFORNIA
We have come far south.
Beyond here, the oldest women
shelling limas into black shawls.
Portillo scratching his name
on the walls, the slender ribbons
of piss, children patting the mud
. If we go on, we might stop
in the street in the very place
where someone disappeared
and the words Come with us! we might
hear them. If that happened, we would
lead our lives with our hands
tied together. That is why we feel
it is enough to listen
to the wind jostling lemons,
to dogs ticking across the terraces,
knowing that while birds and warmer weather
are forever moving north,
the cries of those who vanish
might take years to get here.
FOR CLARIBEL ALFGRIA
IN Deya when the mist
rises out of the rocks it comes
so close to her hands she could
tear it to pieces like bread.
She holds her drink and motions
with one hand to describe this:
what she would do with so many
baskets of bread.
Mi "prieta," Asturias called her,
my dark little one. Neruda
used the word "negrita," and it is
true: her eyes, her hair,
both violent, as black
as certain mornings have been
for the last fourteen years.
She wears a white cotton dress.
Tiny mirrors have been stitched
to it--when I look for myself
in her, I see the same face
over and over.
of a Slavic factory girl,
the pale hair of mixed blood.
Although Jose Marti has said
The book opens with a series of poems about El Salvador, where Forché worked as a journalist and was closely involved with the political struggle in that tortured country in the late 1970's. Forché's other poems also tend to be personal, immediate, and moving. Perhaps the final effect of her poetry is the image of a sensitive, brave, and engaged young woman who has made her life a journey. She has already traveled to many places, as these poems indicate, but beyond that is the sense of someone who is, in Ignazio Silone's words, coming from far and going far.
About the Author
Carolyn Forché is the author of Gathering the Tribes, winner of the Yale Younger Poets Award; The Country Between Us, which received awards from the Academy of American Poets and the Poetry Society of America; and The Angel of History, awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Award. She is also the editor of the anthology Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Centuly Poetry of Witness. Recently she was presented with the Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation Award for Peace and Culture in Stockholm. She lives in Maryland with her husband and son.