Poetry Month – April 11, 2024 – On the Altar

San Lazaro times two


They come to the humble saint
They come to the beggar saint
They come to the saint of lepers, robbers and immigrants
They love his wounded body
They love his flea-bitten dogs
They love his crutches which are just like theirs.
They drag their wounds for miles
They drag their legs behind them
They drag their bodies to his altar
They hope for healing
They hope for love
They hope for nothing
Because he is broken and bleeding and wounded
Because he is the saint in them
Because he is them

If you hadn’t guessed by now, I am not a religious person. Spiritual, yes. I believe in forces greater than myself. And I believe in the power of story. When I went to Cuba the very first time, I did not seek out the Sanctuary of San Lazaro in El Rincon. I sort of stumbled into it and paid for my first San Lazaro plastic statue on the steps outside the church. Years later, I returned to Cuba, sought out the Sanctuary and purchased my second plastic statue, only this time I was with my Cuban daughter born on December 17, the day of San Lazaro. A strange twist of destiny.