pink satin cradling a 14-year old innocent,
the age of my own son. His mother follows,
hollowed by grief, dark eyes vacant.
She has hardly slept, haunted by the crooked slant
of her son’s picture on the wall, a sign
his unsettled spirit searches for a resting place.
Shame compounds sorrow – her unbaptized boy denied
a burial mass in the Church, she is here, adrift among strangers.
She knows but one soul in this foreign church, where we try
to provide a measure of comfort in a tongue not our own.
We rehearse uncertain Spanish, pray our words convey respect.
Mariachis arrive, clad in ruffled shirts, silver-buttoned
black coats. They unpack their instruments, begin to play,
their plaintive songs weave us into common purpose.
At the communion rail, the chalice bearer repeats the words,
El Cuerpo de Cristo, La Sangre de Cristo.
Body of Christ, Blood of Christ.
Today we are one body, offering
solace to a grieving stranger,
wishing it were enough.
~ Susan Carman
Susan Carman is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and served as poetry co-editor for Kansas City Voices. Her poetry and essays have appeared in various publications, including Coal City Review, Catholic Digest, I-70 Review, Imagination and Place, and Kalliope. She likes to travel in her free time and in her writing.
Guest Editor Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate and the author or editor of over 20 books. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches, she also offers community writing workshops widely, and with Kelley Hunt, Brave Voice writing and singing retreats. She founded the 150 Kansas Poems site where she is thrilled to work with many fine guest editor poets and witness powerful writing from and about the heartland.