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.
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.