Lake Titicaca (for Lori Berenson)

Jean Gerard

The sinuous skin of this cold water
buries the avalanches sliding down
from heaven. It inundates old cities,
forests, farms, and cradles. Its quartz-blue eye
swallows the souls of hapless civilizations.

A haughty silence disavows
the cataclysm that must have stopped the ancient songs,
the drums and flutes, the voices of ancient children
trilling on the morning air as pure and sweet
as if the universe loved justice and compassion.
They never thought to be engulfed in fire,
submerged in glacial melt when their gods exhaled.

Earth remains a troubled realm
where nature is beautiful beyond mercy,
darkness rules, and human laws allow
a company of hooded ghouls
to uphold poverty and exploitation.
Love is overwhelmed. Cruelty prospers.
Below these peaks are prisons full of heroes
calling for help. Listen to their voices:
"Never lose hope and confidence that there will be
a new day of justice in Peru!"
This is the chorus that sings on the persistent wind.
Its miserere waits for us to hear.