The day the artist died
In memory of Marío Colín
Today the artist died.
Drummers drum the dancers’ steps,
firm and heavy beneath the trees.
The dancers dance a prayer.
A black dove leaves a feather at my back door,
another on my front step.
The sky paints itself a heaven.
The Queen of Heaven
fades and crumbles on adobe walls,
her flesh cracked and weathered
by the unrelenting sun.
Without the artist to create her,
without his hands,
stained blue and gold,
how will She know herself in all her glory?
How will She love herself
without his devotion? Each stroke of his brush
another prayer. Each star placed deliberately
on her cloak by his knowing touch.
Her double chin an invocation.
Her sorrowful eyes, a lament.
Each precise shade he adds, a request,
“Pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.”
How will She know to pray
without the clasped hands of the artist
devoted to Her glory?
Who will paint the Queen of Heaven?
Who will kiss the stained hand of her most devoted son?
In the park the drums have ceased to call us to the dance.
The dancers have packed their rattles and hoops
and gone away.
A black dove nests in the arms of my Bird of Paradise.
He leaves me feathers,
in memory of the one who’s gone.
by Donna Snyder
Published in my book Poemas ante el Catafalco: Grief and Renewal (Chimbarazu Press: New York City 2014)