Rest Now, Saint Rose of Lima
Throne of wasps & fire ants. Santa Rosa,
Santa de Tierra del Fuego, for fear your hands
might hesitate, stroke slowly the velvet perfume,
you plucked each flourish with your mouth Isabel Flores,
your father set a crown of vine roses on your head.
Garland of pink & red origami & shovel-shaped leaves.
Saint of chalk & vinegar. Saint of untamed jungle.
You left the thorns, Saint of blush. The barren vine
bloomed: your scalp wet as morning. Saint of hips
you escaped your small mirror,
ran to your mother’s kitchen, dug open her burlap
sack of ají peppers & worked the seeds
into your face. Saint
of blue-brown eyes. Saint of swell
& firm. Saint of market travel Saint of no
appetite. Saint of cardboard. The blisters collapsed,
exhausted miners. Your scalp scabbed over, the waxy scars
retreating beneath your veil. But you would not be satisfied.
Saint of lace & of bent knees. Saint of chain-link,
of yellow teeth,
of calloused hands. Four hundred
after your last breath shook the petal of your tongue,
& we are still pulling splinters from your shoulder blades.
Still we soak rags in cool water
& press them to your fever.
Saint of backyards, of unopened doors, of left turns.
Saint of garlic. Santa Rosa, Saint of orphans & aquamarine.
Each porcelain, each
handcrafted tooth rowing
toward a more perfect shore.
Moist in her satin-satchel
fitted into face-bone—
Sing praises. Sing serrated.
Sing to her father &
with clamps & pulls. He clamped
& pulled every pained, imperfect
groan. O father. O coffin,
caved & rotten: Nothing left
damp in the earth, except
a crown of heaven-colored teeth.
ALESSANDRA SIMMONS has been published in WomenArts Quarterly, Post Road, and other journals. She lives in Chicago with her husband and cat.