ritual

summoned at the altar
with the host of wine and flesh
she lifts her lace and lights a votive
waiting for the voice
el dia de los angelitos esta pasado
this night belongs to the dead.

unlike the spanish from her mouth
that drowning soft unloosened song,
this hymn marches on agave feet
feeds her body peyote dreams
while the forbidden words
of a forgotten language
sund her eyes with spirit tears.

condemning, cajoling, questioning,
the souls gather a flock as birds
thrown across the moon
madly twining the night into stars.
she sleeps safely beneath the altar,
smoke seeping from her hair.

—Ruth Rice

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