#81 Stella by Catherine Ferguson

She cooked the best chile, they said.

We crown her with red pods, braids of garlic.

She stands in the kitchen, stirring the pork with a wooden spoon.

On her refrigerator, school photos of nineteen grandchildren

   slide from under saints pictured on magnets.

Soft blue-gray hair curls over the smile of her face.

She was the electric beam in the middle of the night

   that beat like a heart and comforted the chickens.

out her window, Camino los Abuelos slid down toward

   the church. Her view of this life– all things sliding

      toward holy. She brushes her glasses up on her nose

         with a dainty hand, wedding ring surprises the light.

How will he live without her?

Serapio stands in the empty kitchen.

Her ghost chops the onion fine.

He moves to stop her hands, hold the body that always smelled

   of sugar and vanilla in his arms once more, rub his old cheek

      on her cheek. He wants to lay her gently in his lap,

keep her from flying out the window.

A hundred bluebirds peck at the dawn star as she dies

   and rises again, dies and rises, as she stands in the present

      moment  and listens carefully to his complaint,

to the echo that accomplishes his mourning song.

He will always remember her, the soft mouth, the prayers that escaped

   her throat and ribboned into the fields, and the taste,

      so picante, so startling red, of her delicious chile.

Catherine Ferguson is a poet and painter. Inspired by landscape and animals she creates watercolors, oils, retablos and poems that express her love of nature.Catherine is the author of eight chapbooks.  In 2007, she received the New Mexico Book Award for The Sound a Raven Makes, with two other poets.


4 thoughts on “#81 Stella by Catherine Ferguson

  1. I love the thorough humanness of this poem–though the bit about the chickens is my favorite!–and the deft juxtaposition of words and images in really unforgettable ways.

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