MASS BURIAL GROUND, VERACRUZ, MEXICO by Robert Joe Stout
“We were being watched. We were afraid —we’d been warned—but we had to know, we had to find out.” María del Carmen presses her hands against ponderous hips and peers towards a rustling in the matorral behind us. “We just were opening the first graves and we heard gunshots. Zetas—we think they were Zetas, it was their killing ground, they didn’t want us there. We ran—scared we ran, like rabbits—up the hill and around to where we could see our cars. They chased us, fired shots over our heads. But they didn’t attack. Why? A lawyer said because we’re pure garbage, we’re too fat to bury. Since then we are careful. We have the ‘muchachito.’” One eye closes as she tilts her head towards a soldier fiddling with the cell phone in his hand. “We do what the police, what the army, refuse to do. The criminals watch us, we know that. We get threats. Two days ago, driving back, two men glared at us, slid their hands across their throats and laughed. A note: ‘Wear wristlets with your names engraved so when we dig you up . . . ’ Things like that. But we go on. Why? By one’s corpse we found a keychain with a name inscribed. Cruz Ramírez. A musician. His mother came to thank us. Hunched little woman hobbling with a cane. ‘He’s home,’ she told us, ‘where his soul belongs. Now they can bury me beside him.’ That’s why we dig. In a world so evil one has to do a little bit that’s good.”
Robert Joe Stout has published two books and six chapbooks of poetry, worked as a journalist, served on human rights delegations, participated as an actor and director in regional theater. Newest books: Monkey Screams (FutureCycle Press), Kill the Teachers (Kindle) and Hidden Dangers (Sunbury Press). www.robertjoestout.weebly.com.