Death in a Foreigner's Tongue
I. Él sana a los que tienen el corazón roto y venda sus heridas
(Psalm 147: 3)
Their locutions flit over my head, like a murder of crows
fleeing a foggy sunrise in the east. Mother told me to smile
and nod, to force puddles of sunlight into my gingerbread eyes. Monochrome people
hover on tiled floors, fingers fumbling against sterling silver wrists. I study the way
their fingernails catch on dull moissanite rings, handed to them by the papaya brushed remnants of
their ancestors. I wonder if they were baptized in the murky water
of chipped bathtubs. Father raised me to be a good Roman Catholic, to hold hands with
the boy that smelled like gasoline during Communion, to hold back
bile as I kissed him during the wedding. Fragmented light dips into concave chests,
nestling against floral perfume. I peer at the wilted flowers sighing against stiff walls
asters, bluebells, and carnations in a deadened glory that clings to life like ticks burrowed in a mangy dog.
II. Mi carne y mi corazón pueden desfallecer, pero Dios es la fuerza de mi corazón
y mi porción para siempre.
Mascara smudges transform into abstract paintings on tear-stained cheeks, birthing
a child to waltz across anguish-stricken skin. She leaps from
freckle to freckle, wobbling on tippy-toes painted with matte aegean polish. I
swipe my thumb across her face, watching her dissipate beneath my
fingertip. Caskets of walnut wood
conjugate in a silent vigil. Within my mind’s eye, I can clearly
picture the dead conversing with each other in hushed whispers. “Did
you believe their lies too?,” the elders would ask. Undecayed
jaws sighed, “Yes, they told the same stories.” Phantom
hands caressed my jaw, gliding beneath and tilting
it upwards and towards firmaments of an unforgiving and
disquieting god. Oh, how I covet to join Him.
III. Jesús le dijo: “Yo soy la resurrección y la vida.”
Hearts of sanguine blood strain against suffocating ribs; pomegranate veins
strain against sweaty palms as they shove roses against brass handles. The
clicking of heels decrescendos and crescendos as they deposit
their flowers and scurry back. One steps, two steps, three steps,
I am pulled forward by the roots of my hair. I stand before him and
his stale air. Should I feel remorse? Should I pray for his day of heavenly
resurrection? Reluctant hymns drip from chapped
lips, the same lips that so greedily drank prayers from their mother’s teat.
I am an intruder within
these people, an imposter coated in vermillion lipstick. I kiss the top of his
forehead, dusting brunette hair away from his pasty, rubbery skin. He
still smells like gasoline.