They Fell on the Stairway by MERCEDES DURAND


Mercedes Durand

They fell on the stairway
and others reached the main altar
and the cathedral lamps turned red
and the candles brightened their flames
and thousands of eyes looked at the corpses
and the bishop gave them absolution…
But they were already absolved!
and the machine guns vomited death
and the brown backs were pierced
and the wombs of the future mothers spilled unborn children
and they died on the steps of the Cathedral…
and the soldiers and police and guards and lieutenants
and the captains and the majors and colonels and generals
drank their ration of blood
because for 47 years they have needed the people’s plasma
to keep on living…
and twenty-five coffins left the Cathedral
covered with flowers brought down from the volcano of San Salvador
from the ranches of San Antonio Abad
and the slums of Santa Tecla
and now the national anthem isn’t sung
but the Anthem of the Fallen
and the red and yellow flag of the BPR
wrapped the poorly nailed pine boxes of death
and the day of anger arrived
the eight of May 1979
and the lambs were sacrificed
and the assassins poised themselves with guns on the flat roofs
ready to extract more blood
and the demonstrators shouted proclamations
and bore no other weapon than their rage.
I ask
the lightning flash of my conscience:
for how long will uniformed assassins
drain blood from the millions of men and women
who despise the corrupt sound of their boots?
I know that some futurologists assert
that the struggle is long
and the vampire class will not be quickly crushed
But we poets are not satisfied with cold calculations
and we are part child, part magician and part prophet
of one thing we are certain:
that the blood spilled on the stairway
and at the foot of the main altar of the Cathedral
will splatter with an eternal curse
all those who wear a uniform,
the paramilitary squads
the informers, the oligarchs and land owners
from the present to their last generation…
Monsters of the future
cyclops of tomorrow,
rendered radioactive by the people’s hatred,
will flow from the bellies of your women,
assassins, cursed by the fire of God…
You will crawl like vipers
and coil on top of one another
and you will drink the putrid blood of your mothers
nameless bacteria
sinister fetuses
apocalyptic spermatozoa…
and for those who fell on the stairway
and at the foot of the main altar of the Cathedral
the red roses of my love
my heart standing in struggle
the inexhaustible fountain of my fury…


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