The primal imagery flows from the cycies of nature in the stream of life: In the depths of your eyes, the sea, rivers transformed into caresses into the roundness of living children. In the depths of your eyes while the darkness courses over their contours, and blindfold is a dubious maimed nurse, you are there, because you are made of light because you are a butterfly luminous/ in the mirrors. “What Lies in the Depth of Your Eyes” The entire text includes recent poems in the opening section \(under the title, An Aband two award-winning books, Circles of Madness Zones of Pain for this edition. There is a clear thematic resonance throughout the collection and an inventive range of poetic forms. “These poems were written in the solitude of a foreign land in the language of my homeland,” notes the poet about her texts in Spanish, which is the language of her cultural history, of identity and memory, and the medium of her poetic intuition. Agosin’s poems have been anthologized widely under various rubrics Chilean, Latin American, Latina, feminist, human rights and her ten books of poetry have been published in the United States, usually in bilingual editions, which means she has reached a large readership. Her Spanish originals are lushly imaginative, rhythmically fluid, incantatory, and spiritual. In her Introduction to Council of the Fairies Poniatowska wrote, “Marjorie Agosin’s muses have first names and last names and they inhabit, with their brilliance, the poetry of this Chilean-American writer with a universal voice. A miracle turns her characters from simple women we meet every day into fantastic beings. Marjorie has the capability to make wonderful even the most ordinary of actions; turn the most minuscule details into winged and imminent prodigies through the beauty of her language.” Zones of Pain, lucidly translated by Cola Franzen, was a finalist in the Los Angeles Times Book Award competition, and it has attained the status of a contemporary classic in the realm of human rights literature. Most of the thirty-one poems run from twelve to forty lines, and reveal a mastery of the lyrical personal, in which Agosin becomes the instrument for another’s song. Circles of Madness, translated by Celeste Kostopulos-Cooperman, won the 1993 ALTA Prize for translation. This sequence of thirty-four lyrics and prose poems pays tribute to the courageous mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. Between 1976 and 1983, these women gathered every week to represent their loved ones, who had been kidnapped, An Absence of Shadows I. Beyond the shadows where the wind dwells among strangers, in far away kingdoms clouded in fear, the disappeared are among the shadows in the intervals of dream. II. It’s possible to hear them among the dead branches, they caress and recognize each other, having left behind the burning lights of the forest and the tapers of dawn and love. III. Beyond the province there is an absence, a presence of shadows and histories IV. Don’t fear them, approach them with gentle peacefulness, without vehemence and senseless rage. Beyond the shadows in the streaming gusts of wind, they and we dwell in the kingdom of absences. Marjorie Agosin, translated by Celeste Kostopulos-Cooperman tortured, and murdered by the military regime in Argentina. We have read relatively little about the thirty thousand citizens who have lost their lives during the Peron dictatorship and subsequent governments, in comparison to the press coverage of Madonna’s movie and Evita’s shoes. The recent news of Pinochet’s legal battle to maintain diplomatic immunity from charges brought in Spain for genocide, torture, and terrorism against ninety-four international victims of his government might strike some as comically surreal, or at least ironic. But for the families of the 4,300 Chileans who disappeared during anything less than justice will deepen their wounds. There is no doubt how Agosin stands on this issue, as her only poem about Pinochet, “The President,” makes clear. Nothing interrupts his movement. He diligently marches among the shadows of the dead. The general doesn’t hear the cries of the widowed mothers. The general doesn’t stop before the dancing ears on the pavement. Nothing stains his white suit. Because human rights are abused daily on a global scale, Agosin’s tone is ever vigilant and dead serious; because this tragedy is so heartbreaking, her poems throb with pain. She will not debate the niceties of ethical discourse or analyze the politics of diplomatic immunity, but simply cry out against injustice. Her poems never turn satirical, because that would dehumanize the constant suffering. She is too humane to rationalize one moment of the horror and too sensitive to look away from the suffering of humanity. The torture of others is her nightmare. And if you read these poems to their depths, you will understand that we share this archetypal nightmare and that we must awaken to the sacred reality it threatens. 1=1 Robert Bonazzi is the author of Man in the Mirror: John Howard Griffin and the Story of Black Like Me and the editor of Encounters with the Other \(by John Howard from White Pine Press are distributed by DECEMBER 25, 1998 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29
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