It Was After

photography by Susa SilvermarieIt was after her suicide that we met,
her confusion swirling through the air
from across the street where it happened.
A strange way to be neighbors.
I had seen her before, of course,
had noticed her refusal to conform,
the broad bill of her cap
defying Mexican feminine convention.
At twenty-two, her sassy beauty shone.

Why she did it, isn’t the thing.
She lived her short life as she wished.
Foolish, as we each once were,
risking highs for the thrill,
and to disguise her pain.
Death an abrupt growing-up.
While the trauma unfolds in her house
across the street from mine,
while drama spills to the street for days,
she floats alone in a new silence.

Go, I tell her, you can go now.
She seems bewildered to be without a body.
During the Mass, she can’t come close,
but I sense her near the ceiling
watching her coffin covered with roses.
Don’t look here, your guides are behind you.

She doesn’t know me.
It’s over, you are free to go.
Scant chance for an old gringa’s urgings to be heard.
All during the Mass, her energy flits frantic.
Tears run down my cheek beneath my mask
They’re near, I entreat her, ancestors who love you.

When the family follows the coffin,
borne so slowly out of church,
traveling reluctant down the cobblestone street,
the grieving captures me, too, and I lose her.
Her mother is close enough to touch,
through the lifted door of the slow-moving hearse,
the black box bearing her youngest child’s body.

Her mother has been sobbing since Monday.
The shock of discovery, the nightmare wake,
three bleak days of disabling disbelief
behind her, but the worst of all ahead.
Her mother walks wailing, step by step
toward the awful hole waiting at the Panteon.

I implore the young one, one more time.
Your season on earth is finished,
your mother will learn to turn you loose.
It’s okay. It’s okay, you can leave.
See the hand of your ancestor angel?
To express our sorrow, united
we process behind her body.
We honor the life and the passing
of this irreplaceable being.
Go home, dear radiant soul.
Home to the peace you were seeking.

©Susa Silvermarie 2021

photography by Susa Silvermarie

4 Responses to “It Was After

  • So tragic.
    Such good / powerful writing.

    • Beverly Dale
      2 years ago

      Wow! Very powerful and beautifully written. I love the tenderness for this bewildered spirit now set free from the pain of the fleshly experience.

  • Wow- The rainbow. I have a picture of a huge rainbow after Roberta’s memorial. Wonderful poem, I love the many voices.

  • Pat Conway
    2 years ago

    Great writing, Susa. I am moved. Pat