Four Hundred Roses – a poem by Peggy Turnbull

Four Hundred Roses


From books I learned the Great Mother still
lives, disguised, yet as much with us as carbon.
I’m curious. Franciscan Sisters dispatch
an invitation wrapped in newspaper, to honor
Her in the form of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Inside the chapel modernist and vertical wood
seems institutional. I perch behind women
garbed in black and white discipline
serenely contemplating Her portrait.
Her heavy blue veil electrified by aurora.

Four hundred roses in plastic buckets
sing forward to the altar. First encounter
with the rosary. Repetitious praying alternate
English and Spanish and kneeling in a short pew,
wood pressing my knee sharply. The rose scent
alters vision, becomes haze. English speaking
tongue, thickly wrong-shaped for Spanish speed.

But speaks. Among a chorus. Brown face.
Layers shed. Until beneath hums. The majestic
SHE. Pulsing. And my cells too. With HER.
Creation spark. And refuge. Not safety.
And yes, horrors befall us. And yes, sanctuary
hoped, sought. No breath continued a guarantee.
But peace in trial. Tranquility in extreme moment.
And answered yes. The night mangled leafless.

Peggy Turnbull studied anthropology in college and has a master’s in library and information science.  She has written all her life, mostly in diaries, but after returning to her birthplace in Wisconsin, she began to write poems.  Read them in Ariel Chart, Writers Resist, and Verse-Virtual or visit  .

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