annotations on resilience ~ عن الصمود

Poem and photo by Isabel del Rio

The year 2019 saw the 80th anniversary of the end of the civil war in Spain (1936 – 1939), the result of a coup by fascist forces against the legally established Republic.  What followed was a four-decade dictatorship with brutal repression and relentless persecution.  Here are some annotations in memory of those post-war years.

شهد عام ٢٠١٩ الذكرى الثمانون لانتهاء الحرب الأهلية في اسبانيا (١٩٣٦-١٩٣٩) انقلاب القوات الفاشية على الحكومة الرسمية تلتها أربعة عقود من الحكم الدكتاتوري متمثلاً بالقمع الوحشي  والمحاكمات القاسية غير العادلة. في هذه القصيدة بعض من ذكريات السنوات  العصيبة. 

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now and again memory disowns us

we may appear to forget, or we may want to forget

oh, the tragedy of a war between sisters and brothers

oh, the dictatorship that followed –it was, in many ways, so much worse

and yet despite the suffering, some believe that we were better off under the grip of a tyrant

some will resort to nostalgia and call the past the glorious past, swayed into thinking that it was never the product of propaganda, deceit, hype

in their ignorance, some will mourn the era of empires and pray for any budding versions to come true

some will say they miss the times of plenty: they ought to be reminded that there was never plenty to go around and that, more importantly, there was more than enough for the very few holding us in their grip

forty years of peace was their excuse, but they overlooked the fact that this kind of peace is nothing but the persistence of war, no longer played out on the battlefield but in the privacy of the home and the workplace

some of them dissent lengthily without, for a second, opposing the iniquities of the regime –as neither collaborators nor rebels, in that wretched limbo they manage to survive

dictatorships are about obliviousness and cruelty, beyond reason and knowledge, above good and below evil, all of it instilled with a self-proclaimed mission to unite the country at any cost and save it from perilous forces

theirs is considered such a colossal destiny that any divergence from the norm has to be punished

inside the totalitarian mind, failing to do something is also wickedness, and they have a word for it: omission –that is to say, you are held responsible for not saying what is not inside your heart

during those decades of subjugation, they trained us to arrive at the wrong conclusions with the right qualifications

it is not that the truth became elusive, it is more that the country lived a lie and you lived only for yourself

the emptiness of it all is too much to endure without some kind of adornment, even if it means living alongside fantasy, fiction, myth, annotations

such adornments are not there to conceal the catastrophe of war or tyranny, but to make sure it never ensues

we would need to go back to the drawing board and change what we do with our hands and not so much with our minds

you are sustained by the hope that things may be different one day, but this will only happen if you change one day

one of your recurring thoughts seems to be this is the end of everything, and it is up to you to act before it all finally ends

if there is anything you can do, you must do it; and if there is nothing you can do, then at least you must be resilient

resilience is an art, practise it every hour of the day

sometimes being resilient is the only thing you can do, the only art to have

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