Constant Witness

For César Vallejo.

In the presence of endings, your imagination lifted, and death was never far. Where others ran away, you went to meet it. You waded into waters of long suffering, returning with the precious and unseen.

With death never far from where you rested, you rested only briefly. You knew waters deep and rough enough to drown the best of us, how they silenced, and the violence of a blow to stop the mouth.

Still, you spoke of longing and living in a fallen world. Beholding, for you, was a series of flashes. Each pierced you. You kept looking.


Early this morning, I spent time with the work of César Vallejo, whose life I mean to honor here.

The Flamekeeper

With Czeslaw Milosz.

You asked how to survive in a ruined world. Your answer was a series of confrontations: with experience, with history, with the paradoxes of humanness. You would hunt these, not to eat but to offer as food upon your return. If writing is faith, how can you do it amidst the screams of the tortured, the imprisoned, the babies? You meant to answer, keeping witness with your pen in the faint light of your constant faith in a city without a name, writing a song for the end of the world. In times of crisis, you said, everyone becomes a poet.


Inspired by the life and work of Czeslaw Milosz.