Friday, April 18, 2008

Twelve Chapters for Doftana Prison: 2

Yannis Ritsos

Upon the black plaque at the entrance
were two keys, crossed and painted white
like a pair of crossed bones.
Inside time's silence, the weighty sound of chains.
An immense iron skeleton stood before the sun's chest.
Iron shackles on the necks, on the hands, on the feet of comrades.
Iron eaten away by rust. These footsteps untouched by rust.
Your hear them, wounded and confident, passing by
on the other side, distant, in the fresh grass of immortality.

A long corridor, circular like despair
that returns everything to its own steps, like the sob
that walks upon its footprints, like the truth
that paces in circles in the barricaded throat. The truth
that digs beneath walls when you barricade it
a communication tunnel with the sun: if you block it the earth
jumps up to the sky. If you block it within the throat
it pierces a hole in the iron and the throat and the wound
it is a mouth that cries out for justice.

An immense iron skeleton like a bar upon time's door.
Two keys crossed like the grates on hope's highest skylight.
Two crossed bones. The bones of martyrs
made into keys in order to open the world's doors.

from The Architecture of the Trees (1958) [Collected Poems: The Timely ---pg 347-348]

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