The Women of Juarez Take a Message to the Bishop

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

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