City of Crosses

fervor and fear. the nuns sent her sister home on a bus/but they wouldn’t even trust her there. ex
-catholic/independent woman in small town texas. she grew beautiful

but no angels led her from new mexico/as redemption sounded out sorry and sorry, a widowed cry
shaking doña ana county./detached from mozart’s sanitized bellows

operatic. she became obsessed with caretaking/to immure a shrine to death. an immunity won by
deliberate contagion/circling around proximities of pain

to mute the larger one/here, a scrape. a bed sore. a pill to ease the always ache. my father’s sisters
all nurses and he fell in love with her. no surprise

and di with cloudy eyes, not corneal inflammation. her pupil an edge/and the strongest, most
muscular of hands. in las cruces

she worked with state and federal prisoners in the medical unit/her fingers drawing blood with
tender precision. shrugging, i haven’t worked with this community before.

the livid shut-eyed colorblind pathologized. said isn’t it a danger there. she said/most of them were
just at the wrong place, wrong time. good people. of course power planned it that way

not the protectors. one day a latino man was abruptly torn from his cell when he didn’t respond to
guard demands/their language thick lazy bullets. no sense there. just violence.

they ripped him from his cage/dislocating his shoulder. broken scapula clavicle humerus as they
beat him then cuffed his hands behind his back his shoulder just hanging

languages of anguish out of joint/guards have no tongues for releasing torture from tonsils. in the
medical unit di yelled let him go he’s hurt. they said he’s a danger.

he’s a danger. echoes illuminate truths twisting intestines. it’s they whose tears materialize profit.
she tended his wounds/testified in front of a grand jury to their brutality

a whispered benediction

*********************************************wrong place, wrong time.

*

Alison Reed’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in several journals including Skin to Skin, Cactus Heart, Femme Dreamboat, and So to Speak, and she was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is pursuing her PhD in English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she is taking a brief respite from the city life she longs for.

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