dark times/ filled with light

Two poems by Juan Gelman. (The post directly below treats Gelman’s life and times.)

Watching People Walk Along

Watching people walk along, put on a suit,
a hat, an expression and a smile,
watching them bent over their plates eating patiently,
work, hard, run, suffer, cringe in pain,
all just for a little peace and happiness,
watching people, I say it’s hardly fair
to punish their bones and their hopes
or distort their songs or darken their day,
……………………………………yes, watching
people weep in the most hidden corners
of the soul and still able
to laugh and walk with dignity,
watching people, well, watching them
have children and hope and always
believe things will get better
and seeing them fight to stay alive,
…………………………………..I tell them,
it’s beautiful to walk along with you
to discover the source of new things,
to get at the root of happiness,
to bring the future in on our backs, to address
time on familiar terms and know
we’ll end up finding lasting happiness,
I tell them, it’s beautiful, what a great mystery
to live treated like dirt
………………………………….yet sing and laugh,
……………………………………………..how strange!
 

Things They Don’t Know

dark times/ filled with light/ the sun
spreads sunlight over the city split
by sudden sirens/the police hunt goes on/ night falls and we’ll
make love under this roof/ our eighth

in one month/ they know almost everything about us/ except
the plaster ceiling we make love
under/ and they also know nothing about
the rundown pine furniture under the last ceiling/ or
about the window the night pounded on while you shone like the sun/ or
about the beds or the floor where
we made love this month/ with faces around us like the sun
spreading sunlight over the city
 

Translated by Hardie St. Martin.

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