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Why We Are in El Salvador Poems by Jonathan Moore La Helada the Valley nite among the joshua trees and finally frozen palms the dead stiff citrus still stirring life in the roots & motel loneliness closing in. orion’s belt languishing in the constellations; three AM prowl cars rolling through blank abandoned streets; cross the railroad tracks again you’re in cantinaland behind red lights and the glowing jukeboxes where illusory voices fill empty poolhalls and the accordion players wander through the friday streets of men off work. a fat man with lonesome hair dances with a girl from honduras in all the border bars; and women think about their kids the length of mexico away. dreams robbed in hotel rooms in matamoros, son recuerdos; or are detained indefinitely. they’re dancing because of their babies in the humid valley nite. the pungent loneliness of a land ruled by things blows insistently over them. the torn ardor of their hearts rises in a vapor of chanting newsboys from usulutdn, and texas listens indifferently, shifting under the heat in the colonias. men stagger home on weekends and the women go home & back to fetch the babies from the other side, aunts, or sisters. for documents, only the good sense not to wait for something worse. Jonathan Moore, a native of New York, worked for a year as a legal assistant for Proyecto Libertad in Harlingen. When the Fathers land they name the wave-lashed coves after England. But some thing is always out there: blue flowers with savage names or bear skulls whitening on banks where badgers drink, and naked people and virgin white pine rising two hundred fifty feet to the crowns. On the other side of the mountain is the muddy god river, a serpent longer than Europe and full of catfish big as baby pigs, rolling against shoals and bars like a moccasin 2.1114!`: loosening her skin on the bareroot snags. Godfearing, the broadaxe rests in a stump. Neatnotched stocks stand in a clearing by the prayer-house. Smallpox runs ahead, migrating deer or birds flushed by lightning from under the burning crowns: announcing the world market to a communism of trees. Masatepe Jul y 10, 1982 heard the voices of a revolution in an old union hall with peeling walls through static speakers fogged with years and it was young. and with 110 ceremony announcing the purification of the word. and the workers understood everything in their folding chairs, testimony of the fallen young boyfriends of 1978 murmuring secrets that las novias will remember for fifty years; or miliciallos lounging near jacarandas, on night duty. now that the night is safe for love. revolution makes the night safe for love even if love is never safe. what else is it that teaches the old farmer to read, brings potable water into the halfroofed barrio tin-sheds to slay privilege and amoebas; it’s love. o yes it’s love. *A village in Nicaragua. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29