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from Sunday Morning

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XXXVIII

Over the cliffs of the hillside: the sun
then below in the valley
the earth covered with flowers
Zurita enamored friend
takes in the sun of photosynthesis
Zurita will now never again be friend
since 7 P.M. it's been getting dark

Night is the insane asylum of the plants


XLII

Enclosed with the four walls of
a bathroom: I looked up at the ceiling
and began to clean the walls and
the floor the sink   all of it
You see: Outside the sky was God
and he was sucking at my soul —believe me!
I wiped my weeping eyes


LVII

In the narrow broken bed
restless all night
like a spent candle lit again
I thought I saw Buddha many times
At my side I felt a woman's gasp for air
but Buddha was only the pillows
and the woman is sleeping the eternal dream


LXIII

Today I dreamed that I was King
they were dressing me in black-and-white spotted pelts
Today I moo with my head about to fall
as the church bells' mournful clanging
says that milk goes to market


LXXXV

They've shaved my head
they've dressed me in these gray wool rags
—Mom keeps on smoking
I am Joan of Arc

They catalog me on microfilm


XCII

The glass is transparent like water
Dread of prisms and glass
I circle the light so as not to lose myself in them


Raúl Zurita, from "Sunday Morning" from Purgatory, translated by Anna Deeny. Copyright © 2009 by Raúl Zurita.  Reprinted by permission of University of California Press.
Source: Purgatory (University of California Press, 2009)
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from Sunday Morning

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  • Raúl Zurita is one of Latin America’s most celebrated and controversial poets. After Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 US-supported military coup that ousted Salvador Allende’s democratically elected government, Zurita’s poetry sought to register the violence and atrocities committed against the Chilean people and the corruption of the Spanish language. During the dictatorship that lasted from 1973 to 1990, Zurita published a trilogy of books (Purgatory, Anteparadise, and The New Life), wrote poems in the sky above New York City, bulldozed poems in the Chilean desert, and helped to form the art collective “Colectivo de Accion de Arte” that used performance as an act of political resistance. Of his early poetry, C.D. Wright has written: “Under the eyes of church and dictatorship, he began to write and publish his poetry, juxtaposing secular and sacred, ruled and unruled. With a mysterious admixture of logic and logos, Christian Symbols, brain scans, graphics, and a medical...

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