The Gravedigger’s Archaeology
Poems by William Archila
Paper. 104 pp.
In closing my short review of William Archila’s first book back in 2009, I said, “In poem after poem, Archila makes something beautiful out of tragedy and suffering. He writes to clarify and to survive. He speaks as if the sun were a lemon and its juice is running down his arms, cleansing wounds he knows might never fully heal. Memory is dirt in his pockets, a native feather, a corpse without its shoes. Language is a song in his mouth.” Today, after having finished reading his second book, which also treats painfully, truthfully, and eloquently of living through and beyond the trial and tragedy of El Salvador, the first thought that springs to mind is,
There are words in the ground, and the ground is memory,
and memory is a ghost, making its rounds.
This reader wants peace for Archila. He also wants peace for the ghost. It’s beautiful how they have learned to live together, and to aid one another in their quest for expression. But the day will come when the poet will set aside his shovel, wipe his brow, and seek the clouds. What, then, will become of the ghost? Is freedom for one, freedom for both? I think so. I think so.