For the Mothers of the Plaza De Mayo

You are all that shines
in a church of gold
hermana mia
circling the white stones
a public rosary walked in silence
before La Casa Rosada
once built to save the city
from invaders borne by water
now the presidential palace
armed against its citizens

At three-thirty Thursday's bells sound
within the common hollows of your varied lives
and call you to this common space
Sisters in uniform straighten up
guarded against their kinship with you
incredibly one is pregnant
her swollen belly's fruit
pressed against a belt of smooth bullets
she fingers through white gloves
Once your hands held beads round and full
of life not death--
sons and daughters, lovers, friends
one by one you touch them again
and again tracing the sharp contours of pain
you whose rosary would rub
any other's fingers to the bone
you who will not let go
you are all that shines
in a church of gold
hermana mia

In the canons of the church of gold
holy women disappear
into virgin niches
without blood, without sweat
to taint their perfect obedience
unable to weep
or taste saltstains of love and fear
their eyes are trained away
from such things
rapt in contemplation through a veil of dust
no winds, no words can stir
But you do not let go
as insistent tongues of fire
sear your dreams
like butts of lighted cigarettes
burn off the haze of sleep each day
as the sun beats memories across your face
your vigilance is only firmer
in the wild distraction of your heart
the darkness cannot seize your hope
even with a golden crozier at its side
you are all that shines
hermana mia

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