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Following me home from church

for Sunday dinner

She sees my cloudy, mute

ancestral brides

In the faux Walmart ornate frames

with acid free mats–

The  disintegrating evidence

of lost time


That matters too much to me

So that I bring home

Broken clocks,

Dust and dust the porcelain figurine

of a girl feeding a goose,

the story told

by her delicate wrists

and pale oval  face,


“Your life is colorless,”

She says, retrieving her painting of a log cabin

Framed by a swirling and orange sky

From her car, handing it to me–


Tells me she was in Da Nang

In a MASH unit,

Mary of the Pieta

soothing amputees

in her round dark arms;

That she and her Mestizo family

were of Deming, New Mexico

Where I thought only the pastoral Navajo

Wandered the mesas

with their ewes,

stumbling wet lambs at side.


I tell her that my own family

Built Albuquerque

That they sequestered Native American

bone shards in the museums

And wrote monographs about Jemez Pueblo.


She stops me, round, dark eyes

blazing, tells me that she startled diggers

With her shotgun

When they came to Deming with BIA papers

To exhume the burial mounds:

“I’ll come to your cemetery

and dig up your dead,” she says she warned,

firing over their heads.


Later, not ready

for more thrust and parry

or a sky on fire

On the walls of my home

I hide the painting away,

Join her in the St. Luke’s nave

To perform the Rutter Requiem


We process to the altar;

“Agnus Dei,” we sing,

lifting our voices

in dust-filled light–


From the watery shadows

watching a baptism,

we whisper “Libera me Domine,”

Host dissolving

at the back of our throats.