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An Offering--(Of)r(end)a(s)

What is this?

Another poem.

Another poem is just as well,

A deep well,

Of well then. . .

What memory comes next?

I’m asked to gaze

At my hands.

When I look at my hands,


I stare at my nails.

But not today,

Because the question is who

Not what,

Do I see?

Nails went into a coffin.

Her coffin found a grave,

Not a well.

And well,

The years gathered,

Like water.

Above water,

I breathe.

I’m told. I’m supposed to breathe.

Not drown.

The phone beside me doesn’t jump to interrupt.

A far away forgotten call

Makes my hands

Holding bitten, bloodied nails,

Good for what?

I asked this question of my mother’s hands

Of other women, other girls

In farther away places, faraway places

Where I already knew I didn’t belong

Yet had everything to add.

I’m asked to gaze, again

At my hands.

Into the emptiness of what I might be,

Not be,

Holding for my own.


Nails went into the wall.

A thick but fragile wall.

Photographs and paintings hung up

Shelves come down.

A backwards formation of the ofrenda

Coverings removed,

Instead of added,

Like carpet,

Reveal more nails.

Across floorboards and desks,

The ofrenda rises

LED, not candle, lit.

Stripped edges waver more than the veins

Folded in my lap.

On my mother’s hands,

My ring is

Clouded gray. Dirty water. Smudged odor.

The silver reminds me

The cost of remembering

The land that taught me remembrance

His, her, our


Is now

His, her, our


I breathe.

I’m told. I’m supposed to breathe.

Breath is less thought and more sleep.

My forehead strains to hold my eyelids up,

Tired, in need of nails.

Not one, nor two, nor three


Breathe. I’m supposed to breathe.



Día de los


Nails too short to save dirt scattered

Cleaning the


Final resting place.

What was this?

A poem? A rest? An end?

Nails bent inward,

Hands folded as

A kind leveling, layering.


Cradled safely in my lap.


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