Remedio : Ocotillo (Candlewood)

To forgive one’s life love for dying, pick the long, feather-like, crimson flowers in early spring, when the desert is in bloom. Boil in river water only. Let cool. Drink at once. Drink when waking, at noon, and at bedtime each day for three full weeks thereafter. If resentment persists, go to your beloved’s grave daily and pray for forgiveness until sound sleep and appetite return.

◊◊◊

My last days
May they pass

slow as black smoke
goes father’s

only prayer
of late

No
No I’m certain

that he stole it
from Adam I’m sure

who first
uttered it

just outside
the Garden

the first night he
spent alone

Related Poems

Ritual for Ash

We will smudge
our shoulder blades with wings of ash.

We will sow
your remaining ash in an untilled field.

We’ll toss
red carnations, red dahlias, red hibiscus.

We’ll release
white doves and flutter white handkerchiefs.

We’ll return
to the field to watch brave bulls roam.

We will wait
for the grass to catch fire.

Where Love Is Ground to Wheat

for Maria Jesus Martinez

You were laid among lilies,

                 the thin skin of
                 the leaf, the interval, oak

                             pews bowing beneath the weight.

                 If a stone were cast, your mouth
                 would be the well anchoring the water's

                 wish. And the word you would speak
                 in that incommensurable depth

                             could unlock space with a paper key.

                             Beside the casket, I collect my tears
                             before they fall so I may look at you,

                 so the white down of children may fill the empty beaches again,
                 so the bees may store the honey

                             where mercy prepares the map
                             of the forgiven within us.

                                         We are too many skies,
                                         we who cling to the visible,

                             & the bread of my routines,

                                         now absent of you,
                                         are abundant with you.

Incantation

What words can you wrap around

a dying brother, still dying, even now.

A man who has not eaten for a month

sips at water and says, even thirst is a gift.

He asks what other gifts God has given him.

I’m your gift, his daughter says from a corner.

And he smiles and rasps—

you can only unwrap a child once.

The rest is prayer and even more prayer.

You sing softly to him in a language

only the two of you speak and he

snores softly into your palm, breath and blood.