Pantoum for the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe



Need is not quite belief – Anne Sexton

– I know, but I want to believe the last leaves

  of the season cradle-rock down

to me as I hear hands unclasp in the storm

  coming. I want to believe I carry


the season of cradle-rocked breath like a cloak,

  the one Juan Diego opened after

a storm of disbelief had him carry

  Castilian roses from the hill.


My breath’s the one Juan Diego inhaled after

  his cloak opened, and a door inside

the Spanish archbishop – Castilian roses

  from his home country turned the key,


unexplainable roses inside the cloak –

  and he, too, began to believe. Now I,

home in another country, turn pages and find

  myself unable to make up my mind:


Did others begin to believe a native story,

  the joke on the pale Spanish powers,

a brown-faced Mary come to make up their minds

  for them, that maybe they didn’t know


everything – or was the joke on the natives,

  the brown apparition on the cloak

a Spanish hoax, only the Spanish didn’t know

  how far the joke would go: tattoos,


the dark apparition of the cloak mingled

  with believer’s blood, on candles

with prayers, not jokes, painted like tattoos

  on glass, Our Lady on t-shirts and charms,


her image bleeding through to believers, even

  me, who wants to believe the last leaves

of Our Lady’s season drop to me like charms,

  her hands unclasping through the storm.

                                                                                    after Richard Rodriguez


José Angel Araguz is a CantoMundo fellow and the author of six chapbooks as well as the collection Everything We Think We Hear (Floricanto Press). His poems, prose, and reviews have appeared in RHINO Poetry, New South, and The Volta Blog. A current PhD candidate at the University of Cincinnati, he runs the poetry blog The Friday Influence. A second collection, Small Fires, is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press.