Issue 125, Winter 1992
I might have been a martyr. Instead I was
A scourge of martyrs, trying souls in fire.
To save my own soul, I tried tears and prayer,
Harsh discipline, the hairshirt and the taws.
What I observed in burnings at the stake
Was what my tongue decreed: the holy flames,
The bound and suffering flesh, the roar, the screams,
Death agonies, the stench of oily smoke.
Dead, I forget the men who groan and curse,
But I know all too well this vile remorse
Is but a crime I add to the earlier crime,
And both of which the steady wind of time
Shall sweep away—being longer than one’s sin
Or one’s contrition. I have worn them thin.
—translated from the Spanish
by Robert Mezey and Dick Barnes