Calling the Soul – by Lorraine Caputo

– Chajul, Guatemala / March 1994
              – during the civil war, in a village tormented by death squads …
                     but for a while … something calls the soul deeply …

The white-washed façade of the church
       stands ghostly in the darkness
              of misty pre-dawn mountains
Candlelight dances through its open door

Already a long line of pilgrims reaches to there –
       criollos in fine-sewn clothes
       ladinos with sandaled feet
              gnarled by miles of walk
                     through mud & cold
       barefoot indígenas in their colorful village clothing
They shuffle down the twilight nave
       murmuring prayers
              holding tapers & bouquets
Past the santos along the walls
       whose mirrors on foreheads
              reflect the candlelight

They finger the crimson & white robes
       of the Christ of Golgotha
Garlands of flowers drape his gilded altarpiece
Two red-coated stone soldiers guard either side

& this silence is hazed
       by the hundreds of candles
              embraced by chamomile
                     pooling their wax on the stone floor
The flickering flames
       lick the yellow-eyed blossoms
              sweetening this early morn

L_CaputoPoet-translator Lorraine Caputo’s works appear in over 300 journals on six continents; and 20 collections of poetry – including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019) and Caribbean Interludes (Origami Poems Project, 2022). Her writing has been nominated for the Best of the Net. She journeys through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.