From Maria Terrone,
American Poet and Writer


In the church vestibule I pass

the monitor that registers the bodies

of the faithful as gray

flickers, a second of ash

on a screen, and heave against the doors.

At 3 p.m. no one else is here but saints,

corporeal in their sandals and robes,

carrying staffs, books, painted bouquets,

their kind faces cracking

as if they too know

how it feels to come apart.


Wedged into the fingers of St. Jude

is a hand-printed prayer, a paper bud

curled so tight, I feel its plea

for a miracle tug the back of my throat:

cure the cancer, kick the habit–the ineffable

longing of a stranger’s words alive

on my own tongue.


Days later, the hand holds instead

a shriveling rose stem.

Petals lie scattered about

like small, white-robed monks,

backs arched to heaven,

faces pressing stone.

– Maria Terrone

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