Tribute & Tribulation
(For Pablo Neruda
In Memoriam)

Your light body
carried in the rainstorm
there were ninety roses
even so the underworld
believed only the crowd
in the dim twilight
the traffic stalled
by the empty vans
there were no drums
the military generals, cops
strikebreakers, wives and mistresses
with blood under their nails
stood gloved and empty
there were no clergy
to speak of
sailors paused from Valparaiso
and copper mine workers
with wide-eyed gazes
in the city full of signs
in the echoing dusk air
and a few children
strapped to strong shoulders
climbed to watch
a dream of shadows
soon to be in the empty earth
after the rains had died down.

B. Z. Niditch