Sunday, August 25, 2019

the last book I ever read (What You Have Heard Is True by Carolyn Forché, excerpt one)

from What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance by Carolyn Forché:

I don’t know what I had expected to see, but not the swollen torso of a man with one arm attached to him, a black pool of tar over his crotch. I didn’t expect that his head would be by itself some distance away, without eyes or lips. The stench in the air is familiar: a rotting, sweet, sickening smell. Human death. I bend down when I see the head, but I hear Leonel saying, “Don’t touch it. Let the others do it.”

At first I thought they were going to find the rest of the man and place his remains in the truck but instead they gather the arms and hands, the legs with their feet attached, and bring them to the torso where it lies on the ground. They set the head on the neck where it once had been, then the three men take off their straw hats and stand in a circle around the man they have reassembled. They stand and one crosses himself lightly. The parts are not quite touching, there is soil between them, especially the head and the rest. No eyes, no lips or tongue, birds nearby hoping we will go away and leave them to this meal. The air hums, we walk. Why doesn’t anyone do something? I think I asked.

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