Here's How We Did It
Quemaremos todas las naves!/Quemaremos la última esencia! --Vallejo
Here’s how we did it: first we set out the tools,
Ax and hammers, crowbar and awl, a book of
Vallejo’s poems and a bucket of blood-red paint.
The house listed in the wind like a broken tree—
We broke apart the roof and let the slate tiles
Shatter on the floors below us, we smashed glass
And tore apart the ancient iron pipes: sewage
Flowed briskly downhill and into the empty street.
The walls were harder—they built things well
In those days, cinder block and plaster, footings
Deep enough to bear the weight of eighty years,
Eight decades of lives shut in or defended—take
Your pick—by mortar and the weight of the past;
But at last the thing fell by itself, worn out perhaps
By the ache of standing upright past the time
When standing upright mattered. At midnight,
When it was over, we drank a toast to
Broken walls and ruined lives,
And, sitting on the rubble, we read
Vallejo’s elegies into the empty air.