Body Work for My Grandmother

Along a treacherous path of sedimentary
shoulders, my uncompassed fingers
rock. Veni creator rings in the cupola

of her clavicles. Anointed by oil, she breaks
down into muddiness, damaged vertebrae
haloed by rain—our hallowed

damned history. Naked
madonnas, we frenzy, hand rocking
artificial hip, breathing life

into her plastic saviour—the crucifix
that hangs, limp and slow-dying
in our yellow kitchen.

I see her at twenty: rippling brown body
bustling late at sinks, a Colombian
mutt howling in reverence

beside her. At thirty, running round a table
to escape the steel of a man
who almost took her

away from me.
I find abdominal crannies
of maternity,

wide lips that spewed forth
rage, incantation,
the mottled newness of child.

Into this place of worship I groove
my hands down her throat, incise into folds
until I see the bone that bears her up:

the bone ship she clung to from Budapest to Bogota,
the bone bed of respite from the cleaving knife,
the long birch box holding the ash bones of her mother.