On the Soul Begins to Hurt

Selected Poems of Juan Gelman
 translated by Hardie St. Martin

On the Soul Begins to Hurt

Early on the soul begins to hurt / pale /
in the wavering light it explores your not being here /
the heart rises with misgivings /
goes over the sky like the sun

in daylong search / day in day out / it burns
freezing / as if its bones thrown out
of joint / or like an unsaid word
where i try to march against death /

soul you harmonize harmonies that barely
make it across the world’s width /
broken / it broods over
what you left me / night on its feet

on August 25, 1976
my son marcelo ariel and
his pregnant wife claudia
were kidnapped in
buenos aires by a
military commando,
like in tens of thousands
of other cases, the military
dictatorship never officially
acknowledged these who
“disappeared,” it referred to
“those absent forever.”
until i see their bodies
or their killers, i’ll never
give them up for dead.