I was filled with awe and with a startled wonder.
-Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
When the sun fevers her blood, the girl sees
needles of light, then nothing,
no bright dots.
Collapsing in the firebreak,
she groans, grates sand
into her forehead and shins.
The saints visit her, whip-scarred Marcella
helps her sip from a silver goblet,
Juliana who’s been boiled like an egg
gives her a confirmation dress, meringue sleeves
and foam skirt, yards of eyelet and froth,
and Agatha kisses the girl’s cheek,
reveals her smooth torso, breasts lopped off,
two puckered scars like plum pickles
or lipsticked mouths.
Here’s the way to bear afflictions, Agatha says.
The girl’s mother leans over her bed,
tells her to play outside.
And in the firebreak, the girl moves her fingers
slowly in the warm sand; she scratches
a picture that the wind skims away.