I remember your hands. They pulled at the strings
chords flung toward the sky, your head held back
A tilted smile your angle of attack.
Soft notes dropped from languid strings
hung there in air, like the pink copihue blooms
like the smoke over the aluminum smelters.
The skies were blue September spring, and
streams leapt from the cordillera, ran
down to the Pacific through twisted canyons.
People lifted their eyes to the clouds. Those
who were with you lifted their eyes. Streams
ran down over twisted faces.
A wind came from the north, and
you were gathered there in the stadium.
The land surges, Victor. The Andes behind you
press their way toward the ocean.
They rise as they go. The ocean floor will dive deep
melt, burst out as volcanoes. Lava will sear villages.
Seismic waves come to flood Puerto Montt;
The mountains rise nonetheless.
Three fingers of the right hand
on D, G, B strings. Thumb on the E.
They rose to meet you. You sang, your head held back.
How fragile these hands. I remember.
Your whole life in five minutes.
They broke your hands. They came to you
and smashed them, broke fingers, smashed wrists.
“Play now, you son of a bitch!”
You sang until their bullets silenced you.
They never silenced you. The mountains still
march westward to the sea.
The ones who planted you are gone, and their sons
and daughters sing for you.
In the north, we have stadiums
and we have singers.
Our skies are the skies of March, and our streams
run laughing down the long slope to the Pacific.