Susan Gardner

Locked Gate
September 26, 2020 Gardner Susan


On December 19, 1980
Alaíde Foppa went to buy flowers.
She disappeared.

Sixty-six years old.
In a cellar, in a bloody cell, in Guatemala,
by the hands of thugs.
Or worse.

I walk by Alaíde’s sweet house in Tepoztlán
refuge from city noise and endless sorrow
Mario, husband of decades, killed
in Guatemala by a car
two sons, Mario and Juan Pablo,
Guatemalan guerillas, dead
Silvia, belovéd hija, hiding in Cuba
Laura and Julio, safe
in an unquiet life in Mexico.

Alaíde’s house is closed.

White cotton curtains cross the fastened windows,
embroidered flowers near the sills.

Past the locked iron gate, leaves blow in corners
of the patio, brown on the stones,

Now and then, someone, thinking of Alaíde, tosses
a message through the patterned bars,
also undisturbed.

Thirty years ago I write a poem, lift it to the wind,
through the barred gate.
Dust now.

Alaíde loved the light of Italian art
and the music of Italian words.

Teacher, translator, scholar,

for almost half a century, she put words on paper

justice equality honor
despair hope

No body. No grave. Not a strand of hair.

Only paper reminds us

of her beauty, her courage

but a century after she was born, her words,
written down,
are read.

Remembered, like Joe Hill, she’s alive as you or me.

Susan Gardner is an internationally known Santa Fe poet, painter and photographer and the founding editor of Red Mountain Press. She has authored six books including LIFTED TO THE WIND, TO INHABIT THE FELT WORLD, the bilingual BOX OF LIGHT/CAJA DE LUZ, STONE MUSIC, Intimate Landscapes, and a memoir, DRAWING THE LINE.