It would’ve been easier if she hadn’t been known
For the chickens. But she was famous for these white,
Undappled hens, which she’d bring to Perquín to sell
On weekends. The mayor’s chickens, they were called,
As if her husband would ever want them (regal though
They were), elegant as the egrets that are still
Left to wander the presidential palace in Panama City.
By the time it happened, the buildings had gathered up
The evening to form a landscape, and the streets grown
Rancid, like oblong containers from the kind of potluck,
In a dank small town, that people will choose to attend
Out of boredom, and call a world. Her son was staying
In San Salvador to study, and so she was alone.
They came for her, and her
Box of hens, in three military vehicles, the passengers
Disguised as radicals. It would be different if they hadn’t
Been so quiet. They arrested her. She was accused of
Standing with guerrillas, Vesta at her hearth, in her slacks
And a dead son’s blazer, like a queen expatriate
In tenuous provinces. And her crime was simple, she was
The Mother of Intellectuals, the ideal accomplice.
It’s noted among us that this was recorded in mediocre
Spelling, in a functionary’s awkward Palmer hand,
As mader de intelectos [sic], a piece of wood, then,
Made of the intellect. To make her an idea
Of accomplishment — it would’ve be different if they
Hadn’t been so quiet. Soon, some women
Who stood outside the barracks — the ones who
Ordinarily might jump to buy white chickens — turned
When they heard her singing and heard her ringing
Her keys against the walls, as if her room were full
Of open doors, as if her greatest urgency should be
That the room should leave to meet the evening.
Slowly they turned her body into a torso. Then it was
A floor. Rarely do rooms like these have hands.