Women: Mayagüez, Puerto Rico

The rotted sun-weary shacks sit on the land,
Like a drowsy dog’s tongue their doors hang idly
out. All around, the impatient weed and rutted clay;
Within, bare board, bed, table, chair. No more
Than this. No hearth, no picture, the window closed against
The sun. A baby weeps. The pot has business of its own.
And an aged woman retreats within the arms of a chair,
Her flesh thrown carelessly across her bones.
Her eyes wander through the dark to the empty wall,
To its broken altar where she has burned her hand, her thigh.
Flickering fingers recount her years in the wood,
And there she pours wine to her own sacrifice,
Kneels to the faceless board that devours . . .
And suddenly, quivering like an arrow, she is through
Standing like Diana in the wood, and finds the leaf there,
The hound, the bow, an ancient mood of youth.
There the meadow and the spring, and there she hunts
White and secret through the bees and ivy. And finds
There forever her own body, whole, intact,
Like a sapling that holds still all its leaves,
As though inviolate and pure it hung the stars.
Now a wind blows and the door swings shut.