Rites for the Disillusioned: Ciudad Juárez Echo, by Jessie Turner

When la Virgen was violated upon altars of quicksand,
She wore a wreath of drowning prayers.
She opened her mouth, swallowed hard
Breaths of earth she never stepped upon,
Reciting to herself but this, “From dust we came…
To dust we shall…

I was there. I watched her go down
With my pinned milagros shimmering on her hem.
“What does this mean for me?” I shouted.
Her eyes flamed through my cowardice, cauterized
One last prophecy:
“Buried prayers cannot be answered.
           Speak of this to no one. No one.”

I alone bore her witness.
Even at her last, she rinsed me
With patience, passion, grace.

In the night sky, the day sky
Relámpagos shudder new silence;
The vacuum she leaves allows no thunder.
The stars, and their moon too, were buried alive.
We now know how the sun finally died.

Our mothers claw grottos into sand.
Despite ever sinking sand, they claw with broken nails,
Calloused palms, arthritic fingers,
To unearth relics.

Stepping back onto the moon, la Virgen bathes
Herself anew, the stars her sponge, the sun as water.
Yes, she has returned for each of us.

I, no longer alone, heard her confession:
“On this border I have died
Five hundred times, crucified
The way only a woman can be.”

Each midnight, into colonias and arroyos her light
Guides the girls home. The direction of her gaze
Polishes our graves’ absence.
We too were once considered human, is that not so?
Who, what webbed forces indeed, sacrifice such,
Sacrifice thus, upon altars to impunity?

And for what?

Each grain of sand is an entire universe;
This is how I know we shall abide.
Each new fistful promises her newest revelation:
“From my torn vaginas, viscera,
Vassals, and vaults, I have always known you, and
I have always known rebirth and