The Common Good
July 2007

The Women of Juarez Take a Message to the Bishop

by Rose Marie Berger | July 2007

The narcotraficante commanded me

in gestures, take off your blouse.

Then he jerked it, scattering buttons—

smooth and pink—along ...

The narcotraficante commanded me
in gestures, take off your blouse.
Then he jerked it, scattering buttons—
smooth and pink—along the ground.

I wanted to undress with more
dignity; a delicate slowness
that might alter time,
might turn back his hands.

From a place beyond the Christmas
lights, he yelled—"whore."
And mimed a woman kneeling,
hands lifted to her face.

He must have knelt too
because I felt the muzzle
find the soft swale of my temple,
a part I notice only when exhausted.

A little ways off,
above the desert brush
and trash, beyond the factory fence,
aware of the zipper and what he used

to subdue me, I watched a blue light
rising and falling, falling
and rising. To me
it looked like Tepeyac
and the dawn.

And, against his shadowy line, She swaddled
me in a protective veil, wrapping me in roses.

Rose Marie Berger is poetry editor for Sojourners magazine.
For more information on women in Juárez, Mexico, see www.mujeresdejuarez.org.

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