She Disappeared

Brother, sister, you who survived the horror
of the stadium, Tres Alamos or Ritoque,
Tejas Verdes or Chaigun
have you seen my daughter, my brother,
my father, my beloved husband,
my daughter, my sweet daughter.

Wasn’t your hand chained to hers—
you must have heard her call me in her pain
when the lash fell on her heart
when the executioner stained her innocence.
Don’t you remember her?
I will describe her for you:
She was more beautiful than the sun and the star
and gave out hope with full hands.
Her eyes flashed like sparks when she dreamed of her country
without flags, the happiness of its people
no longer in chains.
She said goodbye one afternoon (what an afternoon it was)
Her smile bleeding, and with a sweet kiss
“See you soon, querida madres”
Since then, pain is my companion.
Cradling my hope I walk the roadside
with this question on my lips and in my conscience
killing me with blows, day after day.

— Sonia
(Trans. by Aurora Levins Morales)

Sonia is the pseudonym of a political prisoner held in Santiago Prison during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). Under Pinochet, more than 40,000 people imprisoned, an estimated 28,000 tortured, and at least 3,000 executed or “disappeared.”