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Philip Levine - Montjuich

"Hill of Jews," says one, 
named for a cemetery 
long gone."Hill of Jove," 
says another, and maybe 
Jove stalked here 
once or rests now 
where so many lie 
who felt God swell 
the earth and burn 
along the edges 
of their breath. 
Almost seventy years 
since a troop of cavalry 
jingled up the silent road, 
dismounted, and loaded 
their rifles to deliver 
the fusillade into 
the small, soft body 
of Ferrer, who would 
not beg God's help. 
Later, two carpenters 
came, carrying his pine 
coffin on their heads, 
two men out of movies 
not yet made, and near dark 
the body was unchained 
and fell a last time 
onto the stones. 
Four soldiers carried 
the box, sweating 
and resting by turns, 
to where the fresh hole 
waited, and the world went 
back to sleep. 
The sea, still dark 
as a blind eye, 
grumbles at dusk, 
the air deepens and a chill 
suddenly runs along 
my back. I have come 
foolishly bearing red roses 
for all those whose blood 
spotted the cold floors 
of these cells. If I 
could give a measure 
of my own for each 
endless moment of pain, 
well, what good 
would that do? You 
are asleep, brothers 
and sisters, and maybe 
that was all the God 
of this old hill could 
give you. It wasn't 
he who filled your 
lungs with the power 
to raise your voices 
against stone, steel, 
animal, against 
the pain exploding 
in your own skulls, 
against the unbreakable 
walls of the State. 
No, not he. That 
was the gift only 
the dying could hand 
from one of you 
to the other, a gift 
like these roses I fling 
off into the night. 
You chose no God 
but each other, head, 
belly, groin, heart, you 
chose the lonely road 
back down these hills 
empty handed, breath 
steaming in the cold 
March night, or worse, 
the wrong roads 
that led to black earth 
and the broken seed 
of your body. The sea 
spreads below, still 
as dark and heavy 
as oil. As I 
descend step by step 
a wind picks up and hums 
through the low trees 
along the way, like 
the heavens' last groan 
or a song being born.

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Poet: Philip Levine
Poem: Montjuich
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