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                     for J.M.R.

It came for you as urgently as an invading army, a black cross on the terrain,

wave after punishing wave of mortar shells and tripwire manifested

as spent vials and gauze, syringes and catheter lines: this is the shame

of the man who foresees his own end, of penitence in waiting rooms,

of hospital gowns, sheared. It came for your cells, a disquiet in the marrow.

Thinner like glassine the hands became, and lighter across the borrowed bed,

as you held her, hija de las luces, between inner elbow and wrist. The pressurized

cavity rises, then fails to rise. This is the language we have learned to speak,

sotto voce, in rear pews. Your body, prepared for final display, is a vestment,

unwound thread by thread. It came while you knelt at the altar, a forced call

to prayer, as bells and tones that once rang in the eardrum, caught in the throat

against your will, framing a hunger that clattered across the bones.

During evening Mass, vapor rises from the censer. Hosannah, blessed is he

whose name is no longer spoken, whose suffering is not wasted.


Danny Rivera received an MFA in Creative Writing from the City College of New York, and his writing has appeared in Washington Square Review, Epiphany, Huizache, and other journals. He currently lives and writes in Brooklyn, New York. 

ISSN 2632-4423

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