The Innisfree Poetry Journal
by Lori Romero
EL SANTUARIO DE CHIMAYO
She travels slightly behind the procession of pilgrims led by the man hoisting a cross. Her face is nailed shut. Her contours unreliable in piñon-filtered light. Eyes of a weaver, I envy their density.
I want to smooth her bunched coat, her cowlick leafing out like an Easter palm. Search for stigmata on hands so near to bruising.
I want to sit with her in the Prayer Room, among the discarded crutches and braces, the emptied pockets and handmade shrines. Allow the perfect sentence to fly away. Perform penance until wounds remember a rusty shadow, fill receptacles with sacred sand. Let hours pass until the hawks’ pierced cries fall around shoulders.
Once, a ruined night was measured by line static, like the vague babel of bees. Once, a night nurse wept as she prepared an IV. Once, a breath was expelled as though through the open mouth of a choir.
Outside the Santuario, a sibilant wind will uncover a garden. Lavender and anemone. The blurring of purple and white will call us.
Darkness will evaporate as I reach my hands to her face.
Start with a broom stick
cut to the length of mother’s outstretched hand
sand it as smooth as the moves of your aunts
playing penny poker with hoarded coins
mix ricotta with sugar, honey, vanilla, nuts and citrus zest
set aside and steal a sip of anisette
mound flour into a gentle dune
recalling childhood days at the shore
make a well in the center, pour in wine, honey, sugar, salt, and egg
steal another sip of anisette
knead until the dough
is as stiff as your grandmother’s pillowcase
shape the dough into two disks and roll out so thin
you can read your father’s sports section through them
cut the dough, sturdy as a Sicilian widow, into four-inch squares
wrap each square into an overlapping hug around the oiled form
anoint with egg whites to keep them sealed
fry in heated oil until browned like your uncle’s second wife
drain and cool – slide the pastry off the form while warm
spoon ricotta mixture into a pastry bag and fill to overflowing
sprinkle with powered sugar and chopped pistachios
close your eyes and grow small against the prattle of plates.
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