I am one of those Russian/Polish girls
whose high cheekbones make men’s hearts beat faster,
make them weak in the knees.
Is it my fault I get nervous when I hear a mazurka,
feel guilty when I worship old icons, chant novenas to
faded photos of my oppressed ancestors,
the ones who fled to Chicago,
in search of religious freedom and better food
and never looked back?
They might condemn my crucifix-obsession,
my retablo of the Virgin of Guadalupe that lives at eye level,
directly across from my bed.
She’s small, five by eight, old & faded,
more Shroud of Turin than brightly painted Mexican
mujar. She gives me peace, helps me write,
dissolves the barriers of faith.
This morning the Virgin stares me down. Goads me to transgress.
Go ahead! Write those dirty books, she laughs. I dare you!
The ocean waves outside my window lull me into stupor.
Hail Mary, Full of Grace.
Let’s get lost in the mystery.
Ah! Those cheekbones!
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