Volume 21, Number 3


for Oscar Arturo Palencia
Guatemala, 1981

my poet was crucified in a
blue house in quetzaltenango.

they had spread open his arms so
that the weight of the half-moon
lay on his two thin forearms and
bruised shoulders,

and his petal back was flattened against
the wall, the oval of his stomach softly
throbbing, a newborn's fist.

i believe that when they pressed the urine-soaked
bandage across his eyes, he sweated visions through it.

i believe that when he hung in silver wires, an
overwrought ornament, the electric current haloed around him.

i believe that when they slashed away his tongue,
holy water gurgled forth from his mouth, and

i believe that on the third day, as they poked themselves
into his wounds and he bowed his head in shame,

the cement floor quivered, burst open in
slabs, and he closed his dove-grey eyes,

body sighing into a cloud of words,

white cloth puddling, empty,
at the interrogators’ feet.

—Samantha Berstler