Listen to this reading and an interview with poet Mary Anne Reese.
Archbishop Romero's Alb Speaks
Alb: A white liturgical tunic worn as prayer for a heart protected from all stain and washed in the Blood of the Lamb.
He is not the only one pierced today.
I hold his body gentle as linen,
surround him in my arms
of flowing cloth: a pietá in fabric
and flesh. I remain with him, faithful,
as I have done since he was young.
Sorrow tears at the fiber of my being. Decades ago when he lay prostrate at the altar,
we two were consecrated, our fates interwoven.
Each day since then, I have dressed him in light
white as the bread he lifted up,
bright as the rays of tropic sun shining
from his golden cup onto the crowds
of campesinos pressing close. Now he lies at the altar once again. I hold him still, but I have failed
to keep him free of stain or cleansed.
We both are soaked in the river of blood
flowing from his heart, his mouth, his ears.
My grief cannot blot out a mortal wound.
I protect, but I am not bullet-proof.
Mary Anne Reese is an attorney who lives in Cincinnati.