Twilight in Peru

Kate Gale

June 1998

You cannot understand twilight
as we understand it.
We have stood in the curtain
of mountain air in Peru, outside a prison
that holds our daughter.
We have held the twilight air
very softly, like holding round balls
in vast shimmering hallways.
All around us, noises
animal twilight.
Knowing that where our daughter is,
it is already dark,
That she feels slowly
along the walls of her cell
for the door.

How she got here
is a story
too long
for us to tell.
She was an observer,
one of the note-takers
of the world.
But she forgot,
or we forgot to tell her,
to only take notes
of the oppressed preying
on each other
as we do at times.
To stop writing
when the oppressor appears.

To do anything else
to bake bread
to lie down
to stand up
to stand up naked
to lean against a tree
to smoke a cigarette
to smoke anything
to drink a beer
to see nothing
to be nothing
to be part of the relaxed
and soon-to-be-cut-down foliage
of another landscape

where the blood flows down
into the cracks of earth
while a thousand shining faces
peer from between bars
to watch the last of it disappear
into the fading ghastly twilight.