Contests : War Poetry Contest : Past Winners : 2011 : Danielle Jones-Pruett
NOSTRA DONNA DEL CIELO
Sirens all night, but in the morning
Mama still made us go to Mass.
From down the hill we could see
the spire was gone, smoke
holding its place like phantom pain.
We made our way over rock
crumbled like cookies, over pages
of song-books, scattered and shredded,
shards of stained glass crunching
beneath our feet, stabbing our thin soles.
Our church clothes blackened, bodices
pulled over our mouths, noses,
breaths raspy through crisp crepe.
In the apse, still intact but attached
to nothing, the priest stood, lost
in his baggy slacks and sagged-neck
t-shirt. He was surrounded by stone
bodies. At his feet, wrapped in black
vestments, Baby Jesus, dimpled legs
and arms captured mid-wriggle.
Joseph, face-down in ashes, hand-
carved marble cracked at the waist.
And there—flat on her back—Mary,
tiny pink toes peeking from the hem
of her gown. She was breathing. I took
off her veil to see the slope of her ribs,
the hollow spot before her abdomen swelled,
flattened, swelled beneath the blue organza.
I could hear my mother crying somewhere
behind me, but I couldn't take my eyes
off her face. Red-splotched, freckled.
Her nose a bit hooked. But her eyes—
I'd never seen her look up. It was like seeing
the inside of a seed. Then light pierced the thick
curtain of dust, a slow blush warming us.
This poem was a finalist in the 2011 War Poetry Contest sponsored by Winning Writers. Copyright is reserved to the author.
About Danielle Jones-Pruett
Danielle Jones-Pruett is an MFA candidate at UMass Boston, where she also teaches creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Abject Press, Breakwater Review, Cider Press Review, First Inkling, Poets Against War, Southern Women's Review, and others. Danielle recently curated a collaborative art project, "The Poetry Dress," which included work from 71 female writers. She was awarded the 2011 Vella Poetry Prize, and was a recipient of the Mary Doyle Curran Scholarship. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and sons.