Saturday, April 19, 2008

Twelve Chapters for Doftana Prison: 3

Yannis Ritsos

I know these iron beds with no mattresses
this iron that frost flows through
like fear through a man's veins.
I know this damp smell like a snake crawling
this smell from worn out wool clothing
like air trapped in history's armpit.

I know the feel of iron on my wrists
like a song at night suddenly cut-short.
I know the cell's darkness and the raised hairs
like a wild animal's approach.

I know this silence that comes before torture,
this silence within torture, when all the air
trembles like an injured question that has no answer.
I know this silence, its scarred face.
This silence that comes after torture.
This silence, its bloodied forehead.
This silence, its broken teeth.
This silence that stands upright like an absolute cry: Freedom or Death.
And afterwards, this silence that begins to smile with its bloodied mouth.

from The Architecture of the Trees (1958) [Collected Poems: The Timely ---pg 348-349]

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