saint

“Saint Sylvia”, “The Weight of Memory” and “Prayer Slippers”

by Yania Padilla Sierra

weight of memory

Saint Sylvia

Mark him for the amniotic writ

as he stands before me, pockets full of stones.

My weightlessness will not prevent his

sinking.

The half-hearted are heavy.

The one before him was full of lead,

a crown of bullets worn as life preserver.

Seeking Daddy’s meridian eye

he fell

down. Sank. The brute jelly fish.

I draw them, grim-faced men, like the moon.

Pitiable poets who fashion garnet

daggered words, sharp as sighs. My shores froth

and churn

For all their woeful sonnets.

They cannot ignore the call, that hymn

the suicide’s siren song pitched in longing.

Sad men never float nor ever drift

at sea.

So half-hearted and heavy.

But I, the thalassic tumulus,

rippling dark; I swallow men as art.

The Weight of Memory

His hands are a call to prayer, each stroke an invocation.


My eyes shutter with the weight of memory.


The old home, with its tin roof and dirt floor, guarded by a chorus of ancient trees.


The jumble of scraped knees and paper bag skin huddled beneath them; the sussura of leaves. He

sighs in the hollow of my neck. I return, a rush of brackish river and dragonflies.


Zephyrs stream from my mouth. I am deified by this sacrament.


But all of my idols have feet of clay.

Prayer Slippers

I explore your tenebrous forest, bellowing my low song.

Here I am, there I am, comecomecome

Bare breasted, belly plump and creased like a wine grape;

Full ripe and heavy. The chorus greets me timorously but I am less coy.

I line them up, el duende, el poeta, el insurgente, el musico

I set them in the niches of my chest like a consecrated automaton.

No man could burn a woman like me for I am a stone chapel.

Instead he’d remark on my utilitarianism, my thrift;

My gift for turning bread crumbs and ink into stew.

We’d go to market, I the fatted cow, all cud and frothy milk.

(What to-do with a man like that!)

So come my little wonders, my unconscious collectibles, my disparate hodge-podge.

I will fashion you into a garment, bind you with scarlet cord;

Wear your prayers on my feet like slippers. (Aren’t I clever, woodland man?)

Shuffle me into your bed of bough and melancholy. Feed me cakes of apple molded by smoke.

Peel away the crackled lining.

For I am incombustible.

About the Author

Yania Padilla Sierra

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Yania Padilla Sierra is a Puerto Rican bruja/writer/artist and suicide prevention advocate. Her work has been published and/or featured in Aberration Labyrinth, Tupelo Press 30/30 project, and is pending publication in the first A Room of Her Own anthology as well as Military Experience and the Arts. Her academic pursuits include Jungian psychology and the use of ritual in trauma integration. She lives in Connecticut, and is often seen bantering with bandidos, bourbon in hand.