65% oxygen, so I may inspire
18% carbon, to help me form diamonds
10% hydrogen, to ignite my combustion
3% nitrogen, so I’m a high-protein snack
1.4% calcium, to fortify my chompers
1.1% phosphorus, making me luminous
73% muscle, ’cause I eats me spinach
22% fat, ’cause I scarfs me donuts
3% bone – thank you, calcium!
58% water swelling my ugly bag of skin
patches of hair keeping bits of me warm
a score of shiny nails to dig in the mud
a couple of grimy spirit-windows
two feet that stumble on smooth floors
ten fingers that flounder over keys
a derriere well-adapted to sitting still
a heart like a neodymium magnet
a durable web that binds me to you
a little dog, desperate for approval
a pirate who gives away his booty
a child at storytime, lost in wonder
an octillion of this universe’s molecules
and approximately one of creation’s souls
Paricutin Cathedral – Photo credit: Daniel Tapia. Some rights reserved.
In 1943, two Mexican towns were consumed by a sudden yet gradual volcanic eruption. All of the townspeople’s lives were spared, together with most of the nearby cathedral.
Lord of Miracles
the north tower thrusts toward heaven
a gnarled and knobby index finger
hissing, “You did not lay me low.
Oh, you tried,
on the day you wrapped your
gentle, burning arms
around my brother and me.
You reached up, and you held me,
and you pulled my stone
yet still I stand.”
Its sibling to the south says nothing,
its throat and mouth having plunged
to mingle with the jagged tumble
of dark lava-rock
surrounding and permeating
the cathedral that was,
the sacred place that is,
sixty-five years after
God’s hot embrace.
Behind those brothers –
one tall, one reduced
to stubby fingers reaching up,
an open hand to receive the gifts
of the sky – is the chapel
with three walls and no top.
It too is ready
to accept heaven’s favors
even if they descend from above
as a slow avalanche of fire.
Pilgrims fill the chapel –
seekers dressed in yellow and red,
in green as vibrant as the brush
that ekes out life upon this
snaggy, igneous landscape.
They come for the icon enshrined within –
el Señor de los Milagros.
And were there ever miracles here?
Was it love that was raining down
when the people of two towns
lost their homes,
yet thanks to the slow tenderness
of God’s scorching grasp,
not a single soul lost her life?
El Señor hangs upon his tree –
the ruin at which he eventually arrived –
as the women who loved him weep.
He seems to gaze upward
at the similar cross
that sits proudly atop the northern spire.
In the late afternoon sun
the tower’s stone and brick skin is black
and brown, tan and red like flame,
like human flesh.
uneven and paint-splotched knobbly wobbly
you’d teeter like the tippling pals
you held upright the night before
except for the wadded-up napkins
someone jammed beneath your toes
this is no place for flawlessness
yet your mighty central pillar
elevates your broad circular surface welcoming balancing
high enough above the filthy floor
to ground my nervous drumming fingers
it’s dark in this stranger-full room
and i’m sharing you with two women not-yet-kate not-yet-erin
who aren’t talking to me
because although this is a sort of church
it won’t be my church for another year
so i stare down at you instead
studying your lavish ornamentation
of gum-wads and peeling/curling stickers
until the indescribable commences uncontainable untameable
and i am beguiled for good