The Boiler

Lis Sanchez

FLOR DE MUERTOS

Since you left, a grim spirit has entered my face,
turned it to stone. Such is the way grief works

and why all summer I’ve braced for when you come up
from the cemetery in Oaxaca
by teaching my face to accept small seeds into its cracks.

Nights, I cry out to the clouds,
Let lightning strike this slab!
Let these fissures open like sluices!
Let rain and offal course over this rock face!

Already, invisible fingers are probing
the small pockets of gall behind my eyes.

Root girths swell and form tough forks,
loosen the strata of my forehead.

Soon, whole layers will fall away,
humus will fill in my faults
and from my fecund face will burst marigolds,

their centers made acrid by blood and bile
but never by tears, whose torrents
could deaden their bitter scent.

My blossoms in their eagerness
will mimic a torch of monarch butterflies,
lighting your way up my walk.

How my petals will shiver under your fingers.
How you’ll bury your face in my bouquet.

How you’ll breathe deeply, how you’ll breathe,
my love, until you’re dizzied, sick and sated

and can’t take any more
of the stench you’ve sown by being dead.


Lis Sanchez has writing appearing or forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Salamander, New Orleans Review, The Bark, Puerto Del Sol, Lunch Ticket Amuse-Bouche, and elsewhere.  She is the recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council Writer’s Fellowship; Prairie Schooner’s Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing; Nimrod’s Editors’ Choice Award; The Greensboro Review Award for Fiction, and others.