Imprisoned Truth

A poem by Gioconda Belli, dedicated to the political prisoners of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.

How might the rain sound in the cells of El Chipote?
(Once it had been the name of Sandino’s camp)
I imagine the sound on the roof and through the windows,
The girls grateful for the coolness,
sitting on the ground, their backs against the wall,
remembering the patter in their patios at home,
the voices of their mothers, their hurried footsteps
rushing to pull the laundry off the line.

Young women forced into overcrowded cells
into cots, into stench
Amaya, Victoria, Elsa, Yaritza,
Their faces smooth, unwrinkled.

They still hold on to the sound of laughter in the marches,
Their fatigue from protesting, the fervor of thinking
they were in the struggle so that the dead
wouldn’t die again: the compañeros and their names,
the ones written on placards they held
as they walked with multitudes…

They didn’t imagine then
that in the country they grew up in
they would be ripped from their homes
forced into blue scrubs
robbed of the sun.

They weren’t born in a country where such things happened,
where the stories they were told as little girls
would be repeated,
stories of massacres and prisons and tortures.

They didn’t think it could happen to them:
diligent pupils,
serious university students
so close to graduation…

But there they are,
hearing the rain and the many charges levied against them:
weapons laid on the ground when they were paraded before the press
weapons they had never seen.

The jailers do not hear their explanations
but the girls recite them in darkened cells
Their claims of innocence
fall like rain in the patios,
like water disappearing in storm drains
water the rulers won’t collect, or listen to.

Nothing they say will free them,
because the truth is also locked
while the hours pass
in the dark cells where it rains.

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