citizen of Santiago de Chile

Obscure offramps
and thoroughfares
    of your body—

a ladder here, an alleyway
there. An intersection.
    Ever-green gaze of 

a sun-ripened street—how else
to describe you
    or do I leave that

to the acrobats and trick-cyclists
of Bellavista? An unseasonal deluge
    above the Cathedral of the Duration

of the Longest Embrace—
bottlenecks and storm water

drains, carabineros spilling
out across the square, a tank
    rumbling past the sombrereria.

Certain dance steps
best left forgotten
     on the unpolished floor of 

Amnesia Discotheque.  And then there was
the apartment block
    on the day of your birth—a brass band 

went by, on stilts—or on any other quiet
afternoon. The city has
    as many compartments

as a policeman’s jacket.
Nothing is taken, nothing
    left behind. Intermittent 

foot traffic of as many years
as you can fit into
    that same afternoon. In this

the church of the inconsolable,
with its street dogs and riot police
    the Chilean Christ of

door handles and water-cannons.
Those whom History
    will hold 

to account. And those others
    History, in her arms,
        will hold them.

Gregory O'Brien

from citizen of Santiago


Santiago 2013

Santiago 2013