Six Studies of Doves
drawing by Picasso in 1892 in La Coruña at the age of 11
In 2010, a cave-in at the San Jose copper and gold mine near Copiapó, Chile
trapped thirty-three miners for sixty-nine days deep underground. The device that
kept them alive by lowering supplies was called a Paloma.
Paloma—dove, pigeon, messenger,
reduced to the width of a piece of fruit,
ten feet of hollow PVC, Paloma’s metal cylinder
lowered into a shaft narrower than a sunbeam.
Three doves: for supplies—water, oxygen—,
for fiber optic communication,
for eventual escape.
When food is lowered, the first request
comes up the tube: thirty-three toothbrushes.
Forty palomas per day rush chicken, yoghurt,
cereal, tea, medicines,
bacteria-killing copper-fiber socks.
Soiled laundry is carried to the surface,
rolled like sausage.
Palomas take forty minutes to fly down,
be unloaded, get back up again.
Six palomeros wait, collect supplies.
Toward the end,
the doves deliver dynamite,
blasting caps for the rock
that blocks the rescue.
Palomas rush love letters.
Thirty-three men cut off
from wives and lovers
by seven hundred thousand tons
of fallen rock,
one hundred feet thick,
three hundred feet long,
four hundred feet high.
Susana H. Case is a Professor and Program Coordinator at the New York Institute of Technology. Recent poems can be found in: The Cortland Review, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Portland Review, Potomac Review, and Tar River Poetry among others. She is the author of the chapbooks: The Scottish Café (Slapering Hol Press), Anthropologist In Ohio (Main Street Rag Publishing Company), The Cost Of Heat (Pecan Grove Press), and Manual of Practical Sexual Advice (Kattywompus Press). The Scottish Café was re-released in a Polish-English version, Kawiarnia Szkocka, by Opole University Press in Poland. She is the author of three books of poetry: Salem In Séance (WordTech Editions), Elvis Presley’s Hips & Mick Jagger’s Lips (Anaphora Literary Press), and 4 Rms w Vu (Mayapple Press, forthcoming ’14). Please visit her online at: http://iris.nyit.edu/~shcase/.