Try to Praise the Mutilated Earth

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Two years of bearing witness and being present in Colombia- not simply to the facts of displacement and unbelievable violence, but all of the little destructions that follow, have impacted me in a deep way. Travelling to Honduras and Guatemala felt like more of the same. Having silly crushes on people at the youth camp, when I know that there is a 33% chance that they will die this year in the violence of Honduras is painful. When one of the local Ixil youth of Guatemala tells how he hardly knows his daughter because of all of the travelling he does to defend his region and his culture, I cry. This too is violence and I see it repeated in an endless cycle wherever I go. My heart hurts.

I resist and I work, maybe not for hope, but because I want beauty to define my existence, not violence. A candlelit mass, an offering of flowers, haunting fog covered mountain trails, marimbas and dancing, a picnic on ancient Mayan grazing grounds, hands patting tortillas into being, corn drying in the sun, stories, laughter and songs. We try to praise the mutilated earth.

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the grey feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

-Adam Zagajewski

1 comments on “Try to Praise the Mutilated Earth”

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