Locked Gate


Locked Gate


On December 19, 1980

Alaíde Foppa went to buy flowers.

She disappeared.


Sixty six years old.

In a cellar, in a bloody cell, in Guatemala,

by the hands of thugs.

Or worse.


I walk by Alaíde’s sweet house in Tepoztlán

refuge from city noise and endless sorrow

Mario, husband of decades, killed

in Guatemala by a car

two sons, Mario and Juan Pablo,

Guatemalan guerillas, dead

Silvia, belovéd hija, hiding in Cuba

Laura and Julio, safe in an unquiet life

in Mexico.


Alaíde’s house is closed.


White cotton curtains cross the fastened windows,

embroidered flowers near the sills.









Past the locked iron gate, leaves blow in corners

of the patio, brown on the stones




Now and then, someone, thinking of Alaida, tosses a                                         message through the patterned bars

also undisturbed,


Thirty years ago I write a poem, lift it to the wind,

through the barred gate. Dust now.



Alaíde loved the light of Italian art

and the music of Italian words.


Teacher, translator, scholar,


for almost half a century, she put words on paper

justice equality honor beauty

despair hope.