San Miguel of The Sanctuario de Chimayo
San Miguel, your colors bright after 185 years of
vigilance, nurturing us as we sit beside you,
our prayers entrusted to your judgment scales.
Jose Aragon carved wings to cradle you,
and we, the pilgrims who kneel in this pew at your feet, are cradled in your gaze.
I sit here craving to know Jose’s love and devotion of two centuries ago.
I have come as a farmer in 1850 after stealing a calf from my neighbor, my children starving.
I have come as a mother in 1885 after burying two of my children trampled by their horse.
I have come for your blessing as a new wife, dragging my drunk husband by the collar.
I have come as a soldier, back from WW I without my leg. I come in disgust of war and my body.
I have come as a veteran of WW II, sobbing, shell shocked, surrounded by my wife and daughters who want me to forget, but my mind dwells with the boys who died in my trust.
I have come as a nurse from Vietnam, staring at you in hatred. How could you allow the pain of all those beautiful teenagers, as their shattered arms and legs were amputated?
I have come high on heroin after the gulf war, where I learned how to soften reality with a needle.
I have come as a believer, knowing you stand strong, victorious over Satan. You can hold me up as I pray for strength to run away, again, from the evildoer who fathered my 5 daughters.
I have come as Satan, to be close to you in combat, hoping that you are indeed stronger than the slot machines that steal my children’s dinner.
I have come with questions and prayers, begging for a word, a sign that there is a spirit who can bolster me in this frail humanness I bring to your feet.
I want to touch your wooden feet,
feel light from your blue wooden eyes,
hear comfort from your red wooden lips.
I will sit in the pew and wait.
I will come back.