John or Other Common Names (for the mothers of the disappeared)

A nine-year-old
Schoolboy without proper
Shoes disappeared, a village
Strafed and there is a denial of
Even the child’s name,
No knowledge, commanders claim
Concern only they relish
Their successful food blockade,
Seems once there was this
Swiftest of runners over dirt
Roads, copper eyes, scuffed
Elbows like blades
The color of sun
Burned earth, understand
Children are the most likely to
Starve anyway
In El Salvador, authorities claim
There is not now
Nor has there ever been
A boy, his mother, his sisters
Call him Juan
Carlos Dias Garcia, remaining
Family members swear
He was

He was my brother.
I pray, was he
Struck from behind
While running,
His feet would lift
From the soil, our Juan
Was nine years old.


Photo by Keith Berry