One for Salvadoran peasants who gripped
shovels, shouted at advancing machetes, the first
to die, already grieving their orphans, who
lay now beneath abandoned orchards. If bones could
whisper names, I would mark them here amidst
these plum trees that have witnessed only wind, stars.
I remember fire-trees near Guazapa volcano
their fling of ruby buds, el campo
a slaughter-house, blood on the floor, walls.
One tree for Laura Lopez, mother of six,
Guazapa’s priestless “Bishop” walking
bomb-cratered roads to villages floating in clouds.
Her daughter told me how they ran from patrols
holding hands until her mother fell back
one hand fluttering down, the other ordering
her daughter forward. Mama, she said,
they targeted Mama who protected
everyone on Guazapa except herself.
One for Oscar Romero who offered himself to those
who wanted revenge, those who wanted to die,
even the generals whom he embarrassed but did not despise.
One for Silvia Maribel Arriola who slipped
from her convent to walk candlelit shanty towns
burning with fevers, malnutrition. So she ran
with the wretched and hunted, tending wounds
until B47s droned above Santa Ana, opened bomb doors
over the comunidad about to enter the furnaces.
One for the campesinos who swam Rio Sumpul,
kicking toward Honduras, toddlers on their backs,
ducklings to the snipers on the ridge.
They swam, not for themselves. They were
already ghosts, but for the children
who would remember drowned rivers.
One for us, planting plum trees oceans away,
our hands dirty with sod and innocence.
The plum trees floating magenta blossoms upon the air.