If Gently — (Rome, January-March, 1980)

 to Juan Carlos Cedrón

Selected Poems of Juan Gelman
 translated by Hardie St. Martin

If Gently

if waves from someone who threw himself into the sea
came to mind gently / what about our brothers who were
in-earthed? / do leaves sprout from their fingers? /
saplings / autumns
soundlessly losing their leaves? / silently

our brothers talk about the time when
they were twothree inches away from death / they smile
remembering / even now feeling their relief
as if they hadn’t died / as if

paco were still brilliant and rodolfo were looking
up all the lost thoughts he’d always carried
slung over his shoulder / or rodolfo (forever) digging through
his bitterness
had just pulled out the ace of spades / he turned his mouth to the
wind /
inhaled life / lives / saw with his own eyes the angel of death /
but now they’re talking about when
things worked out / nobody killed / nobody got killed /
they outwitted the enemy making up for some of the general
with brave actions / with dreams / and all this time
their companions lying there / wordless /
flesh falling from their bones on a january night /
quiet at last / so terribly alone / without kisses