Quechula Church, 28 August 2002, 35mm
Its sun-dark arches mirror in the black
receding water. The white mountains rise
behind the exposed church. Only a week
before, its stones were hidden, covered with
the Grijalva River. Swallowed by the wide
mouth of the arch that was the door, I walk
away from you, shin-deep, a sinking Christ
trailing a wake. Light shadows on my back.
How could your hands have been so steady
the month before you died? The clouds
settled along the gorge. Still weak
from your last treatment, you insisted
that I go on without you—said
you’d wait for late light on the bank.
You marveled at the church: the drought’s
uncanny gift, a mystery
among the fishes.
What would you see in this:
this cell of film held to
the light? What did you hope
to find beneath these arches?
You, who loved the church’s
stonework, though given up
on faith how long ago?
What could you see in this—
this remnant of a silence
forgotten in the river?
This image of your lover
who left you in the distance
to bring you back a stone—
who left you there, alone?
———–When I reached
the arch, I turned—shouted across
the water. At an obvious loss,
you waved. What did I hope to find
among those ruins and the river?
An altar? Why can’t I remember?
Wait. I was wrong. You walk away from me.
The egrets like bright buzzards roost above
the mirrored arches. The water doesn’t move.
You turn and call across it and I try
to gesture that I cannot hear. You waver
but turn away again. You walk on water.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.