Prayers for the Dying [Spring 2013]

Several days ago, Tumblr emailed me asking if I still wanted my old account.  The last time I posted on this account was during the summer of 2013.  No, I didn’t want it anymore – but before I deleted it, I browsed through its “poetry” tag.  Much of the poetry I wrote before this blog was started has been lost, so I was happy to find some of my old work.  This is a poem about Omayra Sanchez, written for my advanced poetry workshop during my sophomore year of college.

November 13

The sky is wood and concrete,
gray ash, one silver sliver turning slowly peach
and then gold. I reach for the dust,
feeling warmth slip through my fingertips.

Lahar, which means mudslide,
which means people made of clay
and noises in the distance,
is neither English nor Spanish.
Screams are no language, either.
When they pull on my arms I scream
from a place cracked open by mud.

We’ll have to get a pump, they say.

November 14

I teach the photographer the songs
my mother taught me. His Spanish
is so slow and flat, I laugh
even though it hurts. My head spins
between drinks of Coca-Cola
and bites of bread.

I am kneeling on something soft,
softer than earth, and I think it’s
a person. The sun is too hot.
I smell bad and my legs
are falling asleep.

Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy
Lord have mercy

(I can’t go to school like this.)

November 15

When my friends and I quiz each other
for math, I always do the best.
My aunt pats my head. So smart, she says.

The photographer takes a picture, so
I smile a little, rest my hand on my pillow.

It’s brighter when I close my eyes,
and the farther away he gets,
the louder my name becomes,
each syllable a little exploding dart

Omayra Omayra Omayra

Nothing divided by nothing is still nothing.


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