Strike At The Construction Site

Selected Poems of Juan Gelman
 translated by Hardie St. Martin

Strike At The Construction Site

Neither the strong  noon wine
they’d drink out in the wind.
Nor the ladder, the sun, the air.
Silence stands on the scaffolding.

The men looked at one another patiently
from the heart straight to the bone.
They touched death further down.
0And they made up their minds.

Maybe María’ll cry over these things
and she’ll do it secretly.
She’ll have to dry her cheeks with the night.
Her man won’t know it, one less worry for him.

The man will stare at his quiet hands,
he’ll either say I have or I don’t have.

He’ll grow from his balls on up,
made pure once again.

Pure now that there’s wine in his brother,
small pieces of bread in Pedro’s eyes.
And on the strength of this
the child in his heart comes back again.

And on the strength of this
the silence on the scaffolding
takes its hat off to him.