[galleon prayer]

pilipinas to petatlán

she whispers desert trees, thorn-ridged, trickling yellow candles; roots spilling snakes’ blood
virgin of ribboned silk; virgin of gold filigree
one day’s walk westward, a crucifix of fisherman’s dinghy dimensions washes ashore
virgin adorned in robe of shark embryo and coconut husk
she fingers mollusks, wraps herself in sea vines
virgin of ocean voyage peril
she will herself born
virgin of mud brick ruins; virgin of sandstorm echoes
she is saint of commonplaces; saint of badlands
virgin of jade, camphor, porcelain; virgin of barter for ghosts
penitents, earthdivers of forgotten names praying skyward
virgin of scars blossomed from open veins of fire
she slips across the pacific’s rivers of pearldiving children
virgin of copper coins
she is bloodletting words, painting unlikeness
virgin of anachronism
children stained with berries and rust, their skeletons bend, arrow-tipped; smoke blurs eyes’ edges
virgin of mineral depletion; virgin of mercury
at other altitudes she remembers to breathe; a monument scraping cloud
virgin of tin deposits extracted from mountains
these are not divinations; there is goldleaf about her skin
virgin of naming and renaming places in between

Barbara Jane Reyes, "Galleon Prayer" from Poeta en San Francisco. Copyright © 2005 by Barbara Jane Reyes.  Reprinted by permission of Tinfish Press.
Source: Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish Press, 2005)
More Poems by Barbara Jane Reyes