My nephew was born with purple iris skin; stunted lungs.
His mother begged for life to come back to him,
to take her air, her lungs, the prayer
growing from her until he woke in her arms.
She knows how one barters for life.
In Chicago, 1871, a woman was lost in flames,
the hem of her skirt on fire, rising around her like a halo.
She held a crucifix in front of her, incanting:
ora pro nobis peccatorbibus
nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
My brother took a bullet to the leg, blood blossoming
like flowers on his jeans, my father held him, crying:
God, God. What else could he ask for?
We give it new names, one for each who owns it,
one for those who lost it, again for those who don’t know it.
But it is a part of us,
like the marrow of our bones, oxygen in our veins.
You sit, paper in hand
and begin to fold it in half,
tuck the sheet into itself,
crease for the wing,
pleat triangles to form the body.
You raise its head, imagine
the breeze lifting it from your palm,
eyes opening, beholding the world,
taken to the sky by pallid wings.
As if you breathed life into it,
as if created by your own hand.
I saw a girl packing red snow into her pockets
counting the handfuls,
three, four, five,
as she knelt by her dog in the street,
black fur matted and shining, eyes glazed.
She turned to me: I call him Lazarus.
Nine, ten, eleven, Lazarus.
We picked him up by the paws as we carried
him to the sidewalk, laid him on the ice.
fifteen, Lazarus, sixteen, Lazarus, seventeen, Lazarus.
Snow melted from our hands,
red salt staining our fingers.
Twenty, twenty-one, we call him: Lazarus.
We stood outside til we were numb,
we would have stayed til we were blue.
Lazarus Lazarus Lazarus.
Let these words overflow with blessings,
let them bring back the dead.
About the author:
Diamond Woods is currently a junior at Chicago Academy for the Arts where her focus is on poetry and fiction. She dedicates her writing to her family and other inspirations in her life. On weekends, she can be found indulging in her guilty pleasure, home shopping networks.