I am now standing, with others, in
Acteal, Mexico, at the very place where,
on December 22, 1997, paramilitaries
massacred forty-five Christian pacifists,
thirty-six of them women and children, while
they worshipped, fasted, and prayed.
A soft wind curls around the coffee
and banana trees. Rain falls like the
tears of the bereaved, hesitating only a
second on the steep earth before
racing, as if in fear, toward the
sea. No birds sing.
Quietly we stand in the memorial
building, constructed on the graves of
the victims, gazing at photos of the
people who died. Their clear eyes return
our stare, awaiting an answer to the
Soon night will cover this mountain
town, but nothing in this life will
cover the grief felt for the loss of Rosa
Vasquez Luna, Catarina Luna Perez,
Josefa Vazquez Perez, Maria Gomez
Perez, Margareta Mendez Paciencia,
and forty others who died that day.
While shadows of death brush our shoulders,
we circle and kneel, blowing gently on the
glowing embers of peace, watching,
as the flame begins to rise.
Published in March/April, 2002 issue of
"Fellowship Magazine," and in the 2003
book "Poets Against the War."