Defiant as the brilliance of the Christ And his technicolor halo in a velvet print Covering the wall behind the choirstand, My sister, ramrod straight and stone still, Keeps flawless vigil on a blood red pew.
Mourners move around her in procession. My kid brother sprawls, sleeping, across her lap. She is Mary: placid. Her veil: cascade of curls. Her radiance: mink eyelashes; my mother’s nose A Byzantine roof topping her upturned face.
She is most beautiful this instant, in the mask We all carry, one she whispers through In waiting rooms to grieving families, dons In hospice halls, ICU—Nightingale’s lamp A silver bullet perched on a pin in her scrubs.
There’s no wonder where she gets it from; the awe Is that she never takes it off; even the women Who bequeathed it can crumble; but she, newest breed Is bionic: will never bow to wind, or dust, To the hands of mortals, as doting as mouths of moths.
Last Madonna—no need for others. Immaculate mother To end all mothering with this: Savior or kin, Supplicant, self—once you’ve fallen, she’ll draw The sheet, close your eyes from others’ view, Her own head turned; a screen of hair (and you might
Imagine) a fluttering lash. So be it. She’s done Bearing the body. She need not behold the face.