When abuela became sick, a woman
arrived at the door.
She carried graying crosses made of pine,
gold rosaries tarnished by guilty fingers
praying for the souls of their sick,
six silver spoons, and a kerosene lamp.
We longed to root through that black bag,
the same kind we saw the doctor carry
to the white children’s houses. Hers had more
than scalpels and alcohol. No one had to tell us
to leave her to her work.
She laid out blown glass bottles, dusty
glass full of tequila, full of jaguar blood,
they clinked against her silver belt like chimes.
There were bags of dried mangoes like kidneys,
a pouch with down from the undercoat of a wolf,
one full of red chile, one sagging with black sand
from a distant beach.
She lit yellowed tallow in a votive,
spread out the crinkled grey skin
of a wasp hive, cricket legs,
sage sticks plucked from the mesa,
an old plastic tub of manteca
the brand name erased by stress,
salt, iron balls, a vial of lethargic
white liquid, a woodcutter’s axe on the comoda.
We pressed our pink ears
to the crack under the door
to hear the voices arguing.
Smoke billowed from beneath the door
Soon, abuela started walking again,
peeling potatoes, loading the stove, and singing
with the voice we thought she’d lost years ago.
And passing through the plaza,
we saw the curandera swinging from a tree
in the smokeless morning.