Her cement block chapel is deep in the barrio.
There she rests behind glass, a century long gone,
a pious soul, dried and shriven, mummified
by some quirk of the grave and brought back
for the pilgrims who flock to see her.
For her upkeep there is a donation box
off to the side, which more than covers
the votives that are lit and left on the rail
to weep out their visits for them.
She cried the river that runs down to the sea,
to guide the fishermen home, says one, crossing
himself. No, says another. When the sun could not
come out, it was she who swallowed the night.
No, no, says a third, the town had grown wicked,
and there was no wind strong enough to clean it.
With one exhale, she quickened the air and then,
the bread of the poor would leaven again.
They nod as one. Yes, yes, they say, we have
heard this too. God bless her, it must be true.
What would we do without her?
She is especially busy on All Hallows, of course,
the Feast of All Saints, when prayers for the dead
are the most potent. Many come to pray and more
are the candles lit and left with her in the hope
of lighting her way to the granting of their wish.
They come and go, these penitents, not staying
long, but they are solemn, these ones, hopeful
and confirmed. Some few even sneak little balls
of wax from the rail when they depart,
although to what purpose,
I do not know.
I found this story of a pious and sweet soul who died in the 1920’s becoming a local shrine in The Petrified Woman of Capiz by PenPowerSong, and was so intrigued by it that I asked his permission to write a poem from it.
The facts of the story stand true. The second stanza and the air of the story are completely my interpretation of these facts. The last sentence is almost directly from the original source and is what drew me to the idea of a poem in the first place.
Thank you for reading It’s theirs after all, and paid for. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.
The photograph was taken on Hope Street in Providence, Rhode Island, on a spring jaunt that my wife and I had down that wonderfully eclectic street. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.
Photograph, poem and notes © 2014 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2014 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use or reproduction in any way, unless so granted in writing by the copyright owner.