By Tawni Waters
The night is blue and cool in Mexico. Outside, a naranja moon looms,
sliced by the slats of my shutters. It is Mary’s night. Ave Marias ring
in the stone streets just hours ago. Purple shrines grow in dirty crannies
like scabs over wounds.
This morning, I found myself in a crooked church, staring
at a smiling statue. The candle flame of my gaze licked at the light
in her eyes. I asked her for you.
She seemed like the kind of girl who would understand this love,
this hungry fire that will not die, that feeds on everything, on stones
and steeples and candlesticks. Always, its blue flames lick at the edges
of the shrine of my mind.
The bells are ringing, even now, and there, a confused rooster calls out the hour,
a cackling town crier. Tonight, children laughed late, slurping helados and blowing bubbles
with orange wands. But at last, they are asleep. I swing open my shutters, look down
into the window below me. I can see brown boys coiled in their beds.
Coiled white in my bed, a smooth snake with a licking flame tongue,
I think of you, burning the blue night with my Ave Maria’s. Her name
on my lips
tastes like fire.
Last year, Tawni’s novel, Beauty of the Broken, was released by Simon Pulse and won multiple awards, including the prestigious International Literacy Association Award for YA Literature. Her poetry collection, Siren Song, was released by Burlesque Press. Her work has been featured in Best Travel Writing 2010 and in myriad journals.