“There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don’t now and never did lie to each other.
So now he’s gone and I buried him,
and that’s all there is to it.”
Would that the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who wrote the lines above and who died in 1973, were as lucky as his beloved and honest pup. But burying the man, it turns out, was not “all there is to it.” The Nobel Prize Laureate, whom Gabriel Garcia Marquez once called the 20th century’s “greatest poet in any language,” was in the hospital being treated for cancer when he died. Problem is that for political expediency lots of people–whatever their affection for his sublime and lyrical verse about love–had reason to want Neruda dead. Not least of these was the tyrannical Augusto Pinochet, leader of the coup that had just ousted Neruda’s friend and comrade, Salvador Allende. History shows that if Pinochet wished you dead, soon dead you became. So the Chileans, on a judge’s order, will disinter the old poet’s bones to see if they add one more murder to the thousands already pinned on Pinochet, dead now six years himself. Forensic experts doubt they’ll find any evidence after 40 years–but if there is justice, it will surely be poetic.