On December 19, 1980
Alaíde Foppa went to buy flowers.
Sixty-six years old.
In a cellar, in a bloody cell, in Guatemala,
by the hands of thugs.
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,
Thirty years ago I write a poem, lift it to the wind,
through the barred gate.
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
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,
Remembered, like Joe Hill, she’s alive as you or me.