At the columbarium dug
by hand, a man points to where rock
doves would be brought to nest, their eggs
tended by priests, and the cave locked
at sundown, guarded by hired
knives. The flock meant meat for the dry
times; saltpeter; yolks needed to bind
portraits to walls, to raise a sky
gilded with violets and myrrh.
Tonight, my mother paints her nails
black—a shade she names, “Dark Matter.”
She numbers what’s left of her cells,
tells us of this burning inside
her knees, laughs a promise to fight.
Copyright © 2016 R. A. Villanueva. Used with permission of the author.