WHEN THE VEILS PART : Honoring Our Dead – Part Two

San Diego cemetery is Quito’s oldest graveyard. Its beautiful funerary architecture is on par with that found in Latin America’s finest cemetery, Recoleta in Buenos Aires. photo © Lorraine Caputo

San Diego cemetery is Quito’s oldest graveyard. Its beautiful funerary architecture is on par with that found in Latin America’s finest cemetery, Recoleta in Buenos Aires. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Last Sunday of October – Visit a Cemetery Day

The last Sunday of October is Visit a Cemetery Day.

Already throughout Latin America, families are going out to the camposantos to clean and repaint the tombs of their dearly departed, readying them for the Día de los Muertos festivities.

Let us go to one of the most famous cemeteries in Latina America: Recoleta in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

 

RECOLETA

In this gated

city within

the city

narrow calles

labyrinthing

Rest eternal souls of

doctors & founders

business moghuls

politicians, presidents

& heroes of forgotten wars

(Their grumbling yet

resounds about, around

Evita’s tomb

where fresh flowers

are lain)

 

Beneath their

Gothic spires, domes

beyond Doric columns

fine sculpture

Art Deco reliefs

Behind façades of

dimmed black granite

of façades now crumbled

revealing eroded brick

eroded mortar

Bronze honor plaques

deep-greened

wrought-iron doors

rusting & cobweb-woven

panes shattered

 

Stained glass windows still

kaleidoscope across

fallen plaster, dust of

long-gone flowers

covering

White marble altars

& carved caskets

decaying

in sultry

porteño summers

 

poem © Lorraine Caputo

Chile, like its neighbor Argentina, lost many at the hands of military dictatorships. In northern Chile is Pisagua, which at least 11 times in the 20th century was home to political prisoner detention camps. In its cemetery is a monument to those killed in the Pinochet-era detention camp; these victims are commemorated on 29 October. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Chile, like its neighbor Argentina, lost many at the hands of military dictatorships. In northern Chile is Pisagua, which at least 11 times in the 20th century was home to political prisoner detention camps. In its cemetery is a monument to those killed in the Pinochet-era detention camp; these victims are commemorated on 29 October. photo © Lorraine Caputo

The Day of the Dead is not only a time to honor kin who have passed over to the other side, but others. This I dedicate to the estimated 30,000 who were killed and “disappeared” during Argentina’s military dictatorship (1976-1983). In that country, the victims are honored on 24 March.

In Rosario, Buenos Aires and other cities, former torture centers have been turned into museums. In an article, I make this warning about the one in Córdoba: “If you are particularly sensitive to energies, you might find this museum a bit overpowering.”

I wrote this poem upon visiting that center, as a way to ground myself.

 

ARCHIVO DE LA MEMORIA

Walking into that centuries-old building,

through a wall torn down

to reveal the memories

of that dark Dirty War

The testimonies of survivors

splayed through the air

& the memories that still

hang heavy

I sense those spirits

waiting on concrete benches,

cowling in pain

in small windowless cells,

names, dates scratched

in the plaster,

bodies dragged

through the maze of

narrow corridors

The memories

shove me

out

the doorways

of that subterranean

torture chamber

& that one

at the top

of steep stairs

I hear those screams

those thuds

slam

slam

slamming my head

against invisible

palpable walls,

echoing around me

from every corner

within this

Archives of Memory

 

published in :

The Más Tequila Review (Winter 2013)

http://themastequilareview.wordpress.com

A child’s recent grave in Villa O’Higgins, at the end of Chile’s Carretera Austral. photo © Lorraine Caputo

A child’s recent grave in Villa O’Higgins, at the end of Chile’s Carretera Austral. photo © Lorraine Caputo

BLACK ECHOES

I.

Large black moth

high on the

egg-shell wall

Silent       still

It tells no knowledge

except to those who

listen to its darkness

 

II.

Their conspiracy theories

& conspiracies

echo

 

Up stairwells

 

through salas

 

Their talk of death

& war

 

echo

 

echo

 

III.

Another day       another

black moth

I capture it in my

smaller hands

 

& let it escape

 

I speak to it

coaxing it onto

the broom straw

 

& carry it away to

the garden patio

 

It flies above the

third story

into the smoggy

afternoon

 

IV.

Their laughs

echo up stairwells &

through these salas

It’s all superstition

it’s all foolishness

 

The spirits listen

 

The crinkle of wrappers

the crunch       the melting

of chocolates

stolen from the ofrenda

Echo

 

up

 

& through

 

V.

Those laughs       those lies

no longer echo

 

The moths have disappeared

 

No-one is here who

will listen

to their darkness

 

poem © Lorraine Caputo

Puerto Río Tranquilo is a hamlet of about 500 (living) souls on Chile’s Carretera Austral. On the south edge of the village is the cemetery. The small, hut-styled graves have an exclusive view of the lake’s turquoise waters. photo © Lorraine Caputo

Puerto Río Tranquilo is a hamlet of about 500 (living) souls on Chile’s Carretera Austral. On the south edge of the village is the cemetery. The small, hut-styled graves have an exclusive view of the lake’s turquoise waters. photo © Lorraine Caputo

31 October – Samhain – All Saints Eve – Hallowe’en

In the indigenous Celtic tradition, Samhain is the new year.

The old year has died with the frost, mouldering leaves and flurrying snowflakes. Death has arrived, and from death comes life.

When the veils between our worlds – of the Living and the Dead – are thin, is a good time to consult the spirits about what the future may hold.

 

SPIRIT SUITE

Étude Nº 13

Samhain midnight

I fall asleep       my future

spread out before me

 

& a while later I awaken

my moon flowing with

the rain along the

clay roof tiles

 

 

Morning       the clouds shower

& dry       & float away

Heat blazes the afternoon

 

& the sun sets in pallid ochres

orchids       peaches

It streaks the ragged

nebulous remnants

Faint stars appear in the

deepening dusk sky

 

 

Across the All-Saints-Day night tejas

the cats stroll on silent paw

Across the blue-grey city night

shuffles       waxes

the white moon above

 

My moon wanes bright red

 

 

All Souls Day       Day of the Dead

The cloudy dawn rumbles

& the soft rain washes

the empty streets

Fallen white tree flowers die on the

green grass of the Plaza

Their damp fragrance wafts

through the vacant air

 

The droplets splatter

on the clay roofs

They dance on the heart-

shaped leaves of the chapata trees

the bronze-green ones of avocadoes

The rain’s whispered song is carried on

the gentle southern breeze

 

 

In the evening       from below

a soft song of a young man

fingering his charango

 

 

This night a friend visits me

again       in my dreams

I ask her, What are you doing here

not wanting to say

because you’re dead

With her crooked smile

she responds

To see what you’re up to …

 

 

In an aquarelle blur

these days wax with

rain & clouds in morning

they wane with humid

sun most afternoons

 

 

Again this evening       from below

that young man’s soft

charango song

I drift away on his melody

 

& awaken at three

The silvery full moon

shines bright behind

the patchy clouds drifting

this time       from the north

 

 

The dawn approaches

bringing a showerless dawn

 

& my moon continues

to wane       continues

to flow       deep red

in drought

 

poem © Lorraine Caputo

Advertisements

One thought on “WHEN THE VEILS PART : Honoring Our Dead – Part Two

  1. Pingback: WHEN THE VEILS PART : Honoring Our Dead | latin america wanderer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s