Heinrich Böll – On the 60th Birthday of Ernesto Cardenal (1985) [Poem]


Heinrich Böll
Ernesto Cardenal

In one study
Ernesto
I’ve photos
of a lady of my choice
of sons daughters-in-law  
Grandchildren
Deceased friends
and a photo of a desk
of Otto Hahn
the table modest
almost shabby
to which something so immense happened
the table looks like
a schoolboy performed
a few experiments on it
and yet
on this shabby table
unfathomable energies were unleashed 
In another study,
(yes, I have two, Ernesto)
I also have family
and friends, and a photo of you
as you kneel there
smiling
before Karol Wojtyła’s threatening index finger
You wicked socialist
and called you all the same
Priest and Catholic
You rascal!
I still don’t know
if any of you can still smile
under Reagan’s threatening fist
don’t know
if any of you
with the pennies of your poverty
can endure
the monstrous energy of misery
against the stupidity of wealth
of millions of dollars
as easily as Wojtyła could
make a blessing hand
from a threatening index finger
the Ambrosiana millions redouble
Vatican energies
(wasted on the Ambrosiana!)
to Managua!
So that you become and remain
what I wish you
smiling socialists
and yet  – oh wonder
Catholics
maybe even Christian

[Translated by R. V.]

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