It’s theirs, after all, and paid for

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Her cement block chapel is deep in the barrio.
There she rests behind glass, a century long gone,
a pious soul, shriven and anointed, mummified
by some quirk of the grave and brought back
so the pilgrims can flock to 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 lives under their whispers.

She is especially busy on All Hallows, of course,
when prayers for the dead are the most potent.
Many come to pray and more are the candles
lit and left in the hope of lighting her way
to their wish. They come and then go, not staying
long and they are solemn, these ones, hopeful
and confirmed. Some few even sneak little balls
of wax from the rail before departing, although
to what purpose, I do not know.

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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 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.

john

This is an older form of the poem:

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. And, says another. when the sun could not
come out, it was she who swallowed the night.
Yes, yes,
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 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.

Photograph, poems 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.

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8 Comments

Filed under Poetry

8 responses to “It’s theirs, after all, and paid for

  1. This poem is beautiful. Well put together and intriguing

    • That is very kind of you and I appreciate you taking the time to write a comment. It was an interesting poem to approach. I needed some way to life the poem away from the bare facts to the emotions and story behind. Again, thank you very much!

  2. As usual…another great poem! You got a style all your own…you will go far with your poems…I salute you!

    • You are very kind and I appreciate it very much. But you are over generous, the story (which I loved from the very start!) came from you and I give the majority of praise to you. It was your wonderful telling of it that induced me to write this. Thank you!

  3. You have done this so well, John. I love the atmosphere you have achieved.

    • Denise, thank you so very much! Frankly I feared it was overlong…I was not sure that anybody would stick with me long enough to tell it correctly. I am honored that you did.