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Waging Peace

Renny Golden: Six Plum Trees


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.


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