Saturday, March 10, 2007


In the hospital bathroom, I come face to face with Marialita,

nagual woman. Thousands of her stare

from rainbow beveled edges. Wild hair, the forested tunnels

of her eyes. She beckons me

to remember. I remember her

lying in a poison-ivy swamp, looking

for the color red.

Looking for red

and being circled by a redbird: scarlet tanager.

With me inside her. Redbird.


The next week was orange.

A fox came.


with its muddy feet

looking at me, just as Marialita does.

Later, she looked at a man I'd never met

and I told him about the caboose in his back yard.

Red. His world leaked into my head

through Marialita, nagual woman.

No dreams,

these, except as I dream now,

as I dream my life away,

walking up hot stairs in the hospital.

On her belly, my mother lies waiting. She waits

for glue to dry in her broken vertebrae. Just mended.

No nagual woman I, no shaman,

but a helpless daughter.

She will take my hands,

but only if I do not offer healing.

She wants to die.

Tanagers, foxes, and cabooses are tiny magics.

They don't make me holy. Or powerful enough to heal.

When I touch, when I lay on my hands

on someone, healing, they ask for more.

Or smile and say simply: thank you.

I want much more; I want a miracle. People die:

my father, my friend Judy, my sister-in-law, Diane.

My mother calls across the veils to my father

and I hear him answer.

Marialita bleeds. Her red, red blood

pools in my finger tips. I know it can't stop

my mother from slipping away.

Mary Stebbins Taitt

For Margaret

For Poetry Thursday theme Red

(A significant revision of a three-year-old poem)

070310-3a; 2c, 5/19/2004; 1c, 5-10-04

earlier version sent to The American Poetry Review, 5-20-04, rejected


Kimberley McGill said...

Sigh. Double sigh. This is beautiful.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Beautiful, primeval / mythological.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Thank you so much Kimberly and Craqfty Green Poet for your kind comments! :-D Mary :-D

Mary J. said...

Such a lovely poem, with strange and lush images. I love the lines "but only if I do not offer healing. She wants to die" and "tiny magics."