The Guarani saw the hummingbirds enter the blossom and believed
their own dead had returned.
I was once a bringer-of-spirits & visions.
All children are graverobbers my mother said
while I sat at the kitchen table crossing
her father’s arms, blinking my sister’s eyes.
A tonic for sleep she would grind from my leaves
I tried on all the names –
wheel of fortune, clockface, maypop –
and turned my dresses inside out.
No one noticed
except the man on our street who did magic tricks
while he held the girls on his lap.
I wrote my confessions
Be watchful for what is taken by sleight-of-hand
Prayer is a mote of pollen on a bird’s neck
and stuffed them into the collection basket
until my teacher said some specimens evolved
to seduce the bee.
My name on the board: Incarnata to make flesh
but not the body disguised as bread
I once opened for.
St. Jude, Restorer of Mutes,
this is not a prayer.
Even if you won’t release the fingers
that clamp my tongue, I’ll tell you of the vine
lashing itself to the chain link
around the red plastic cups shoved into the fence.
Weedy and insistent it drives itself upward
the way the record of things inscribed
in invisible ink or fingernail, wiped or painted over
but done to a body are revealed again.
Note: Long used for shamanistic and medicinal purposes in parts of South America, Spanish missionaries began correlating the passionflower’s outward facing anatomy to elements of the crucifixion story.
Angela Apte is a writer and educator from Houston, Texas, where she teaches at a public arts high school. She has an MFA in Poetry from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her work has appeared in Devil’s Lake, Mason’s Road, and Failbetter.