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In a room at the side of the hand-painted
santuario, with its seven-foot cross

found glowing one day in the red desert dust,
a row of crutches left behind,

and walls of photos of the children
for whom we pray. Their baby shoes.

Their army uniforms. Ourselves in them.
Ordinary pains, unending in time

as fear or hope. Past the low doorway
in shadow lies the pocito,

the well of holy dirt that’s said to heal.
I want to rub it on my sorrowful hurt limb

and then I do, silent as a non-pilgrim
can get in heart and mind,

no believing, no unbelieving,
as a prayer to a god with no body,

the god of whatever may come,
though the aching god I left behind

still wants to speak in my ear like a dead father,
the one with forever wounded hands and feet.

Chimayó, New Mexico

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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