When the saints still lived
in their previous lives, ordinary
mortals just like us, they did not know
how someday the faithful would fight
for a scrap of their clothing to pin
to undergarments, or press their faces
to glass under which their remains lie
undisturbed as the very day they died.
So I am beginning to collect fragments
that might tell a kind of story of your life
though I don’t know all of it: yellowed sheets
of piano music, a picture where you stand
on the balcony overlooking a crater lake.
The slender curve of your neck, your finely
carved cheekbones, how you told me once your waist
was a size nineteen when you were my age. Though I
might fast or count mouthfuls of water and bread,
I could never hope to emulate that example.
Even so, I practice hunting the sweet, buttery thread
running through every vein of bitter green. I try
not to shudder at the thought of rodents
coming out of the floorboards at night
when the world thinks we are sleeping; how
instead of casting them out you name them
señorita, let them sink their teeth into
loaves of bread, into garments made of lace.