Close your eyes — that’s when you will see them.
That’s when you will see the sun become broken: the silent and surrendered mirror, suspended above bodies of bullet-laced wind. That is when you will hear the final sermon of the hanged priest.
The distant fields that once held maize and cassava now hold the corpses of tongues and villages. Keep your eyes closed, because that is when you are able to see what the rest could not.
Trunks of trees snapped into oblivion, the snake of flame coiled around the throat of the soldier, there is no night and there is no day. There is only the unspoken minutes of a mother nailing herself to the cross, the feast of steel wasps ravaging her body as the children escape to the solace of other shadows.
Hills of delirium, crashing ocean of yells and whispers left to drown motionless beneath a canvas of cadavers, the absence of the moon, and the world continues to rotate even after it has become still. Pray the song of Solomon once you hear them march— it is not the sound of their boots that you must fear… the sound of heritage betraying itself is what will plummet your soul into insomnia.
Spell of restless eyes: you have found the gospels written within you.
A dance of shadows, how can it be that the descendants of kingdoms and forests are now numbers to be carved into the notebooks of generals and morticians. The president and the ministers: traitors in the clothes of heroes, demons speaking in saint’s tongue.
Shattered rib bone of adobe, silhouettes of tapirs, mountains dividing into the past and the present, eternal storm of folded nights, ignited spears, death squads, a choir of bullets, collapsing cathedrals, the drowned generations, the drowning generation, the pillar of voices that still rises from the soil of El Mozote.
Mother of the riot, daughter of civil war, kingdom of roots now known by the name of El Salvador. Open your eyes now. The sun is whole, it burns without surrender. The wind now floods every stretch of this earth, possessing more memories than any general’s rifle, than any campesino’s fields.
Look into the sky — our eyes became the branches that centuries could never break.
Raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, based in Essex County, New Jersey, and author of Memories of an Old World, Julio Cesar Villegas is the writer that your abuelos warned you about.
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