At the beginning of before.
Here it is: are we in the right
spindle bobbing away?
Are you a fable resting in the sun and wanting?
Tell me how your dreams are.
Tell me what you might mean to yourself in their fury,

Now, skirts forever in a night wind
Yesterday spins yellows around tomorrow
Whatever did your mother tell you about
late at night when you put your book down
on the bed and she came in soundless
with a tight face to sit in the dark with you
while you wheezed and you waited.
Violence in the coal mines.

They always told me
La Pasionaría was brave
no pasarán, she said. With her vision
she was defending Madrid’s mountains
they told me and I heard her when
she spoke with that spike of passion
indomitable: she said no pasarán
and in the foothills there were cheers all dressed in black.

Your father I learned took a gun with him
there at the beginning of before
to protect himself at midnight
on the picket lines in the dark
to protect himself from hit men
who hated his vision out west
in the fog in those long flat parking lots .

Low in his left cheek a muscle quivered
within, at the end of a smile that wasn’t.
He took a gun and she went kitten silent on your bed.
The quiet of her heavy sitting
at the beginning of before
reminds me of an old dream,
her telling you of crossing the street
because of the scar on her skin
because she wanted to hide it from all eyes

Was this a mingled message
to fight with all the passion the rains pour
or to scurry away from feeling?
To hold the front line or to flee into a hole?
Camus who believed in solitude as his struggle
And Aragon whose masses were transcendental
Tell, tell me more please before the end is over.

—Linda E. Chown ©2018

Isidora Dolores Ibárruri Gómez, aka “La Pasionaria,” a Spanish Republican leader of the Spanish Civil War

8 thoughts on “What they said

  1. I am so happy to have been able to share this poem. It is very special for me. I grew up very aware of La Pasionaria, impressed by her leadership and energy to inspire people to fight for justice. Thank you for the positive comments.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow. I had never heard of her before, either. I just read about her on Wikipedia and what an interesting, intense and amazing woman! She accomplished so MUCH in her life! With everything she did and all the things she was involved in, I am surprised that she lived to be 93 – I thought for sure someone would have assassinated her. What a full, dedicated, passionate and incredible life she led. Thank you so much for introducing me to her! The name La Pasionaria fits her to a tee.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Michael–thank you so much for your comments about my poem. She and the women of Spain kind of led me to this poem which was really about women and trying to find a way to tell my own story on my own even when times were rough.

      Liked by 3 people

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