Colleen S. Harris

These Terrible Sacraments

Bodies piled like cordwood, stacked
so that we had to move great gouts
of earth with our hands, lest we tear
what was left. They came
like guardian angels, or picky anthropologists,
moving among bones,
as though they had been born
to wander mass graves, collecting
pieces of what had been alive,
puzzling them back into meaning.
I go back, lie on a cot, think
about how the wretched survivors—
mothers collecting teeth from
their sons' crushed skulls,
husbands looking for buttons
matching a wife's last dress—
walked the chaos in straight lines.
I pick up a pen. I start calling her Rebar
in my letters, she doesn't ask why
and I don't say. I don't tell her
she is my scaffolding, the grid laid
to help me hold these piles
of buttons and bracelets and bones,
keeping me from buckling under
the weight of these terrible sacraments.


The Postscript She Doesn't Write

Send me the spent shells
of your enemies. I will string
the brass of the bullets

that missed into a necklace
of luck. I will wear it until
the greenblack stain creeps

around my throat like a bruise,
a death-echo. A reminder of my
promise. Where you go, I follow.