When Blood Boils
What is the reason for your visit, Embera Wera?1
You’ve walked fourteen hours through the muddy night,
you’ve crossed an entire mountain range to see me,
even knowing the demon moana lay in wait for you in
when your legs failed you, Embera Wera,
your War, your son, carried you strapped to his back.
Did you tumble?
Is that why mud stains your dress and your wounds are
mapped in blood?
What brings you to the hospital, Embera Wera?
Malaria that has your blood boiling,
poverty that’s handing you its bill—
I don’t understand your language, and you don’t
understand my dialect.
Are you in pain . . . Boro pirabu, tani pirabu, bi pirabu?3
It’s your seventy-three years of neglect that’s hurting you,
war that’s taken away the land and the fruit of your
your rivers that were poisoned by mercury—
you feel you can’t take anymore.
What are you holding on to, Embera Wera?
The god who taught you to romanticize misery
who with whipping and witch-burning taught you to love
and who is waiting for you to “bless” your suffering?
But don’t let me die—your eyes say—
clinging to life is not a sin.
—Administer fluids, blood sugar, an EKG, chloroquine—
Have her fill out the SIVIGILA form for malaria!4
But, why not also report violence by the State?
Why not denounce the indolence of history?
Translation from the Spanish