by Rita Dove
Parsley Family Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (line)
calls out his name in a voice
so like his mother's, a startled tear
splashes the tip of his right boot. (lines 63-66)
This is, as they say in the biz, an example of "breaking character" – i.e., Trujillo is doing something entirely unexpected here. He weeps at the sound of what he briefly thinks is his mother's voice – a single tear, granted, but that one little tear is doing a big load of work. It makes him more human, for one thing. It also solidifies how much he loved his mother. And it makes his anger more poignant and intense, because we can guess he'd regard weeping as a sign of weakness.
The general remembers the tiny green sprigs
men of his village wore in their capes
to honor the birth of a son. (lines 68-70)
OK, so we haven't really had any non-maternal quotes in here, but here's one, and it's a bit of a curveball. It explains why Trujillo chose "parsley" as his death-word of choice – it's got a specific memory attached to it. And that memory is very much familial. For Trujillo, the parsley represents family, and his family has been yanked away from him. His response: utter rage, arbitrary hatred, and intense violence.