by Natasha Rodriguez Carroll

Wake is better. The English punctuates
in a way that we can’t manage,
our tongues echoing the Latin mother,
tall votives lit in perpetuum
and the magic of resurrection.

The church is near silent,
mourners nestled and shrouded on benches.
Some queue to view the inert body,
husk of an old woman in wool
who ministered the plants by the pulpit.

Breaths are gunshots tonight,
and any cleared throat will startle
in us the tender guilt of living—
shame and laments bloom inside,
exhaled in air to mingle with the stench
of rotting lilies and strong perfume.

I always avoid processions,
and earlier dressed in silence—
only the whispers of stretched fabric
as legs slipped into stockings,
only the rustle of a dress
settling over blushed skin.

Now outside, I wait alone
in the cold November night,
trampling crimson leaves
into the cracked stones of the walk,
haunted by the pleased smile
pleating the frozen flesh of her face,
like a blessing resting on eggshell silk.

Natasha Rodriguez-Carroll is a graduate student in the NEOMFA consortium and the Wick Poetry Center Fellow. She has a BA in Spanish from Kent State University. As an undergraduate she was an intern at the Wick Poetry Center and served as student representative on the Advisory Board. She won the Undergraduate poetry competition in 2009, and her poem “Mothers” is part of the Speak Peace Traveling Exhibit.