Issue No. 19, Winter 2016

Louisa Muniz

Those last moments,
a bruised bird
fluttered ’round your death bed
waiting to be free.

You, father I never understood,
leave an ache,
spilling into empty arms,
one I must tend to over time.

Your last labored breath,
in the O of your mouth
is a sparrow of sorrow,
trilling into an empty sky.

We cleaned out your apartment.
I learned you stored long grain rice
in a yellow plastic container.
I claimed it as a keepsake,
a reliquary for holding the sacred,
keys and certificates: birth and death.

For years the relic sat on a pantry shelf
alive in its den of darkness,
spawning morsels of memories,
your flaming hand, a scarlet bird
lashing out with striking fear.

Inspired by Clementia,
the Roman goddess of mercy,
I soaked the container in forgiveness,
sudsed it in prayerful litany, chanting
our father, my father, non-father.
What I’m saying is…
it was time to expel the demons.

Louisa Muniz is a freelance writer and a reading/writing tutor. She lives in Sayreville, NJ. She is a recent retired reading specialist and takes pride in having been a National Board Certified teacher who traveled to China to learn about their educational system. She has a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Kean University. Her work is forthcoming in Tinderbox Poetry Journal. She is currently working on her first poetry chapbook.