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Pablo Neruda
translated by Jodey Bateman
GAUTAMA* CHRIST

The names of God and especially those of His representative 
Who is called Jesus or Christ according to holy books and 
     someone's mouth 
These names have been used, worn out and left 
On the shores of rivers of human lives 
Like the empty shells of a mollusk. 
However when we touch these sacred but exhausted 
Names, these wounded scattered petals 
Which have come out of the oceans of love and fear 
Something still remains, a sip of water, 
A rainbow footprint that still shimmers in the light. 

While the names of God were used 
By the best and the worst, by the clean and the dirty 
By the white and the black, by bloody murderers 
And by victims flaming gold with napalm 
While Nixon with his hands 
Of Cain blessed those whom he condemned to death, 
While fewer and fewer divine footprints were found 
     on the beach 
People began to study colors, 
The future of honey, the sign of uranium 
They looked with anxiety and hope for the possibilities 
Of killing themselves or not killing themselves, of organizing 
     themselves into a fabric 
Of going further on, of breaking through limits without stopping 

What we came across in these blood thirsty times 
With their smoke of burning trash, their dead ashes 
As we weren't able to stop looking 
We often stopped to look at the names of God 
We lifted them with tenderness because they reminded us 
Of our ancestors, of the first people, those who said the prayers 
Those who discovered the hymn that united them in misfortune 
And now seeing the empty fragments which sheltered those 
     ancient people 
We feel those smooth substances, 
Worn out and used up by good and by evil. 

*Gautama is Buddha's family name

..=.
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