See his work pants, speckled with the paint
of a dozen dogged summers,
projects in wood and brick, bitter with detail;
his shoes, shredded and gouged
by nails, splinters, snags,
doubts, duties: have I really done enough?
In old pictures he’s delicately eared
and nosed, small of smiles, a colt gentle in
the eyes, but in the sinews
See him now, decades done, craggy and laconic,
shuffling head down on agendas never done,
see him and try to believe the stoic has not won.
It has not -- it has not: gentleness is never done.
Those eyes could not not see
Goya’s shadow-people wedged, writhing,
beneath Power’s gorgeous building.
For a tower this proudly
starred this fine
their bones must crack; marrow
must grind for
the mortar tomorrow. Best to just not
think about it, people say. Such people
are not followed.
But even gone he saw them – and saw them,
haunting him, mouthing their stories at him.
Guatemala City, 1950: Machine guns
are popping, the good guys lost, they said;
a young missionary hid under his bed
and went home with stories. In 1954, our
boys finally won:
Then looted the land for forty years,
snuffing out the brown folk he had loved.
It’s the nineties. See him now – the man grows old.
He wonders at the root of evil, and
empire’s fruits. He does
not retire. He stakes
out the perps. He
reads books. He
learned who pulled the strings, who
pushed the coup. He’s a
tough detective soul in Jesus shoes.