from The Chilean Flag

Elvira Hernández

They hang the Chilean Flag out their windows
they put it on television to solicit tears
nailed to the highest part of a Chilean Empire
on the center flagstaff of the Estadio Nacional
a band passes      a squadron passes
two three four
The Chilean Flag steps out onto the field
in a football match the Chilean Flag is raised
a police cordon surrounds her like at an olympic stadium
(it is all strictly sports)
the Chilean Flag flies through the air
cast to her fate

In meters squared the Chilean Flag is measured
its odor with twitches of the nose
in eyes that do not see her edges of light and dark
in patience her diarrheas
the constructions of malnourished trust

The Chilean Flag is hanging from two buildings
her fabric swells up like an ulcerated belly—falls like
an old tit— 
like a circus tent
with her legs in the air she has a slit in the middle
little coochie for the air
a little hole for the ashes of the General O’Higgins
an eye for the Avenida General Bulnes

The Chilean Flag is on her side

The Chilean Flag is reversible for
          some from here to there
          us from there da ‘ere

The Chilean Flag
the perfect division

The Chilean Flag is a foreigner in her own country
                   she doesn’t have ID
                   she isn’t majority
                   she is no longer recognized
the prolonged fasting has put death’s thumb upon her
          the churches administer her last rites
the Legations’ party horn and sound of the trumpets

The Chilean Flag forces herself to be more than a flag

No one sees the Chilean Flag passing the nights under the
open sky

the night is dark
not even a long winter it is July 22
—the sun that has made poetry of the solstice—
that her children are only asking for the poor part of all of childhood
the Chilean Flag does not have paper for requests
not even a single sheet
nothing at all

Sometimes the Chilean Flag disfarses herself
             a black hood engrievens her visage
             she looks like an executioner of her own colors
no one recognizes her in the puddle where she lives
                       if they saw her they don’t recall
not even like Vallejo’s paletot at full mast

The law is not carried out with the Chilean Flag
she does not have ground beneath her feet
only altitude

             The Chilean Flag is in the air
                                          like a paper cone
             in the dwelling place of the air that is not aerial

The Chilean Flag asks them not to stand up when she flies

translated from the Spanish by Alec Schumacher