#7 Desert Shrine by Sharon Niederman

The little shrine is still there
Five miles west of Socorro
On a dirt road through the desert
Suggesting respite on a harsh journey
Someone loved it well enough to spray paint
The doors gold, the rocks green, to entwine
Plastic flowers among the cholla branches
To arrange toy relics from a Mexican mercado
Neatly, carefully, on the barren ground
A cross stands here now, in remembrance of Edith Silva
And burnt-out votive candles fill a trash bag.
I didn’t open the doors this time
As we did on that October day
Curious, laughing, a little frightened
Handwritten prayers flew out
Carried away on the wind
I tried to catch them, to replace them
You watched, let them fly away.

Sharon Niederman is a longtime New Mexico journalist, novelist, photographer, and poet living in Raton, NM. Her most recent work includes: Signs & Shrines: Spiritual Journeys Across New Mexico. She is the author/photographer of a dozen books of NM travel and history. Her debut novel was published by UNM Press.

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