The Light Under, A Conversation with “Dibaxu (Under)” by Juan Gelman

first published in Poetry City, U.S.A.
reprinted in The News, Mexico


Under the metal wing

of another plane leaving home


a field of clouds, moisture

no one can hold


under the clouds

a white page of snow


under the snow

roofs like book covers

splayed open

under the roofs

our cranial bones


under bone

our songs remembering

life after leaving:


in the city

we walked in rags

wrapped around our feet


hunger held us;

we did well

if we had potatoes


new laws took

our fathers’ work

then took our fathers


they aimed at our elders’ hearts

for “friendship

with God’s enemies”


led us to clothed bones

in barrels; yes, we said

these are our sons, disappeared.


Certain of always losing

we stand on the Strong Cliff

ready to strike.


Our tongues tremble

with this exile.


Yet, under our songs of the separated


our roots sing through soil

to other root clusters

feeding trunks, branches

multi-mouthed, green-voiced

leaves of every shape and language



under the leaves, the word










under the word