Jovi Schnell, The Late Bloomers (acrylic flashe, and cell vinyl on canvas), 2014

I walk a Roman road—where the Lord once appeared, ghost feet rubbed
in salt. Domine, quo vadis?  To preserve myself my buried hand bones

open into vines of light. My mother says spirit children still cry
for their daddies who don’t ever come home & the body lives forever—
severed head hallowed & bowed, striated sinews, fossil honeycombed
with memory somewhere—as when I listened to a crippled bird I can’t name,

shelled ocean at a cistern’s bottom. In a chapel-under-the-church, a girl
martyr’s tomb smells of dust & pears, dust bones, wind vertebrae. Even

after this long, I can smell the Lord on her breath. Still I hide from him, 
remembering how a man first entered me. Holy exhumers found

St. Pio’s robe & sandals, no ribs, ear’s malleus, incus & staple, the body’s
smallest fragments in his coffin:  I won’t be here when you come

searching for my bones. My mother says the Lord only shows saints
his shoulder wound—most secret of gashes. When the Lord arrives

he’ll be silent on dragon feet, claws in—virgins waiting with lanterns
of sweet oil—the medieval artisan, first spindling colors into rose

windows, indulgences ascending him as starlings, hyacinth wings lined
with lead had to find solace in these new iron & glass bodies light (a way

home would pierce) over pilgrims for centuries, didn’t he? My mother
says the Lord will always have his nail holes—how can I ask

to be spared from death any longer because even in paradise
there are reminders of who killed you.


Nicole Rollender