A Visit (After Javier Sicilia)


A Visit (After Javier Sicilia)
I cannot go
anywhere anymore,
say maybe
to visit the poet
and talk of love.
Weed blocks the way.
Army in my face.
Death in the gardens.
with lost dreams.
I cannot cross the border
to see my neighbor.
Guns steal daylight.
Screams follow night
into pits of former selves,
my colossus must be fed.
Its children never satisfied,
always wanting more,
ready to pay.
Adrift in white powder.
Number one.
My country
right or wrong?
Walls itself off.
Fear wears its cloak.
Danger ties its shoes.
Stopping me
at the line
between us and them
in a labyrinth of solitude.
(As a poet, novelist and essayist, Javier Sicilia tapped a deep strain of Catholicism to obsess over “the mystery of God in a broken world,” as he put it two years ago when he was awarded Mexico’s top poetry prize.
Now that his own world had been shattered by the killing of his son in March, 2011— an innocent, the police said, caught up in a drug-trafficking attack that captivated the nation — Mr. Sicilia, 56, said he had kept his faith but had felt it sink to a “dark, deep place.” So he turned to that other mystery, poetry.
After burying his son, Juan Francisco, 24, a university student who was found bound and shot along with six friends in the city of Cuernavaca, Mr. Sicilia stood before well-wishers and read his latest work, an ode to his son:
The world is not worthy of words
they have been suffocated from the inside
as they suffocated you, as they tore apart your lungs ...
the pain does not leave me
all that remains is a world
through the silence of the righteous,
only through your silence and my silence, Juanelo.
Then, Mr. Sicilia, one of the country’s most acclaimed poets, told those who had gathered that they had just heard the last poem he would ever write.
“Poetry doesn’t exist in me anymore,” he explained later in an interview.
But that does not mean Mr. Sicilia has any intention of remaining quiet.
Since his unlikely tragedy, he has led two marches with the slogan “¡Hasta la madre!” — which roughly translates as “We have had it!” — and has issued a series of public denunciations, providing an exclamation point to this country’s campaign against drug cartel violence, which has left nearly 40,000 people dead in the four years since President Felipe Calderón began a crackdown on organized crime.

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