Sharon Black

 

Palomas

He ekes words from the colour of the soil,
from the reek of sixty days of piss, shit, sweat;
from his knowledge of each man’s breath, the tension
at the earth’s heart.

He writes his letters by the alchemy of truck batteries,
tucks them gently as eggs
into the abdomens of white palomas:
news to hatch in his family’s hands.

He tells how he’s forgotten blue –
the wink of el Salar de Llamara;
the muscled flinch of swordfish;
a lone star, fading. How he knows

morning only from his wrist-watch,
from the 6am sudden stringed fluorescence,
from his daily ration
of half-a-spoon of tuna, one biscuit, a mouthful of milk.

He holds his notebook upside down,
lets the sheets fall open like wings:
a pair for every man down here,
he will leave no page empty.

Note: In 2010, thirty-three Chilean miners were trapped for 69 days. Victor Zamora, a mechanic, sent his wife poems in plastic capsules nicknamed palomas ("doves"). The Chilean flag is known as la Estrella Solitaria (‘the lone star’).

 

(from my collection 'To Know Bedrock', published by Pindrop Press)

Copyright © Sharon Black 2011