top of page


By Ignatius Valentine Aloysius

Your silence your dressed anatomy

                      leave me weak for worth. I have

too-few words now, mother, with my

                      tongue tied by immense grief, my

heart ablaze with some lightless future.

                      I stand beside your mute, supine form

that's placed in polished wood & given

                      the cleanest cloth, starched & white.

Your body met its embalming cold, was  

                      stored away for a week (until I came),

then released at once to the day's bait

                      & fierce tropical heat, given to our

prayers, a full chapel service. Graceful

                      requiem begging for my lamentations— 

an Asian immigrant from America, your  

                      third son. It's those conscious afflictions

that I simply cannot bear. It's because I

                      see your suffering past, because I take the  

blame, knowing I should've done more,   

                      done better, made all your days safer.

Your body's laced in black over white.

                      The powder sweats, shadow blue & fine

beads running to seed from within you.

                       Covered scars from your fatal fall go

bluffing around your closed, made-up eyes,  

                       those dark lesions on fragile arms, your 

now-peaceful face & most relaxed lips. So  

                       far, far beyond reach you are, mother,

bound to unimaginable time. And yet

                       I must touch the last weight of you, the

last voice of you, & feel our fates in my

                       throat, like the crisp heavy snow you

never got to see, hold—snow always feels

                       like the sentimental essence of you, not

this way, in this single hour of my crisis-life

                       & grief come forward. I leave the pew,

reach for the beads of prayer in your hands,

                       knowing you'd share as you always did.

I speak, so broken. I cast my pale lyric. I

                       write those clustered sobs, singing for

destiny & for all the clerks of time to hear

                       my eulogy in situ, & seal this farewell

season that now passes to your gloved

                       your graveled hands of paper-thin skin.

trailing-off (Jake photo).jpg

About the Author

Ignatius Valentine Aloysius earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Northwestern University, where he teaches writing and experimentation. He is the author of the literary novel Fishhead. Republic of Want (Tortoise Books). His poetry and prose appear in or are forthcoming in Tofu Ink Arts Press, Trampset, Cold Mountain Review, Thanatos Review, and the Coalition for Digital Narratives, among other venues. He is a curator and host of the long-running reading series, Sunday Salon Chicago, and he serves on both the curatorial and diversity boards at Ragdale Foundation. He lives in Evanston and is a mayor-appointed board member of the Evanston Arts Council, a grant-funding committee that serves the arts and BIPOC creative community.

bottom of page