hope fails us often
that's why some think
that known grief is better
than unknown grief.
they believe that hope is an illusion.
they are deluded by grief.
Gelman's daughter survived.
Under Foreign Rain (Footnotes to Defeat): XXV (1980)
Europe was the cradle of capitalism, and the child in the cradle was fed on gold and silver from Peru, Mexico, and Bolivia. Millions of Americans had to die to fatten the kid, who grew strong, developed languages, arts, sciences, methods of loving and living, further dimensions of being human.
Who says culture has no odor?
I stroll through Rome, Paris-what beautiful cities. On the via Corso on the Bulmish suddenly I catch a whiff of Tainos devoured by Andalusian dogs, of Ona ears mutilated, of Aztecs destroying themselves in Lake Tenochtitlán, of the diminuitive Incas broken in Potosí, of Querandí, Araucan, Congo, Carabalí, enslaved, massacred.
You don't smell old, Europe.
You smell of double humanity, the one that murders and the one murdered.
Centuries have passed, and the beauty of the conquered still rots upon your brow.
(from Unthinkable Tenderness: Selected Poems by Juan Gelman. Edited/translated by Joan Lindgren. Copyright © 1997 Juan Gelman and Joan Lindgren. courtesy of the University of California Press.)