A Mother’s Love Is Not Always Enough

We don’t mourn 

for the death of our babies.

They die in fives 

or six or sevens,

and we place them gently

in cardboard coffins

lined with paper. 

During the day,

we leave them alone while we work,

hoping they are strong enough

to survive until we return. 

We don’t expect them to live

under these conditions. 

Most of them don’t.

We have learned that

a mother’s love is not always enough

to keep a child from dying,

so we don’t expend the effort. 

My Body, My Temple

Who will pray at my temple with me, 

dipping their hands 

into my holy water 

upon entry

and lighting my sacred candle?

And who will they pray for?                      

Will they pray for me?                                  

Do I need to be prayed for?                         

Do I need to pray                                            

for them?

I’ve been told that my body is a temple, 

and I have always wondered                  

what that meant.                                          

Am I to be worshiped? 

Do I deserve to be worshipped?

And when they decide to worship at my 

temple, will they first stop to admire my 

stain glass windows, my works of art 

hanging from my brick walls,                     

or will they skip straight to prayer, 

kneeling at my alter,                              

eating my Eucharist,                         

drinking my wine,

and absolving themselves

of sin?                                                

We Cross the Massacre River…

We cross the Massacre River as Mother holds her new aluminum pots close to her chest so the water doesn’t take them. Papa grabs my hand so the water doesn’t take me. 

We leave behind the Dominican women selling goods from their booths and I hear “perejil?” from a woman in the distance. She rolls her ‘R’s effortlessly–the way I’ve practiced for years. It’s not in my blood. 

The brown water reflects the hot sun and as I think of the nerve this woman has selling parsley. Our feet touch Haitian ground again and Papa lets out a sigh of relief.