FIVE MESSAGES FROM PUERTO RICO

PENETENTIAL PSALM OF THE EXILE

Mine is the guilt and mine the guilt of my father, and of the father of my father
and of the father of all generations.
Mine is the ancient guilt and the new, eternally human,
and mine the other guilt of which I only know the Biblical punishment:
of banishment deprived of returning.
Blessed the man who walks Unaware over his own sand
and none can tell him it is not his,
and the old man who kneels to the sons over the ancient tomb
and knows that the sons must bring theirs to his.
Happy are those who serve as the roots
and who guard the deep country for tomorrow,
and blessed are they who on Judgement Day
Like eternal stems, will stand straight in their land.
But I, at the doors from this arm in torch-fire our innocence lost,
bird of happiness, flyer without return by the sea-roads.
Now my eyes, like twisted arrows, miss the caress,
and my lips confused, uncarded wool, tremble with forgetting.
By the open prints of my empty hands, death only passes. None knows mine in this otherness
because even memory is stranded without master or destiny.
Sink deeply, My Lord, in my new knowing, the spear of punishment,
Cleanse well in the bowl of my free hope
All of our guilt.
I will accept the pain if the sleeping oblation of strong wills awakes in our land.
If my blood in prayer would erase by the seas, our great cowardice
and the hunger with its terrible lips would not stain
tbe prayer for what is ours.

Diana Ramirez de Arrellano