for Andrea Martínez
The old one, buttoned up, wind hard at his back.
The old one, pushed forward on his staff.
I wake up
from some fog, bent sun,
hypnotic drone of the car engine
to the Easter pilgrims, everywhere, on the shoulder.
Still a week out, on foot, a hundred miles
from the Santuario de Chimayo.
Because you are gone, my sister, the pilgrimage—
this one, each spring,
the Haj, even the pagan
cure-for-cancer pledge run
What is my church, Old Man with a staff?
How do you know yours? Believe?
Because I cannot, six months after your death,
feel you near me, I want to join the severest ones,
on their bloody knees.
Theirs is a certainty, yes, and I have gone the other way.
The rain starts, here, on the interstate.
The man, now far behind, is pelted with raindrops,
honed by wind.
He walks on.
I do not know where you are, for sure, though I am given
certain definite options, by those who do:
I have chosen, instead, the hush and no
and the images I give it—
black hole, mountain fog,
windstorm, river mud.
Things we can’t see through.
Your way, Old Man, sings of some old
certainty, deep in the belly.
I remember it, recognize it again
from our childhood days, Sweet Sister.
It is sharp, sacrificial, the vertiginous certitude
of these teenagers, old couples, men
with their spare boots slung over their backs.
They are dizzying, yes. Their beauty,
this clarity--it slays me.